Travel Agents

AAT Kings MD talks domestic travel and how agents can cash in on long weekends

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

A weaker Aussie dollar may spell gasp-indicating currency conversions and postponed trips for many Aussie travellers, but AAT Kings and Inspiring Journeys managing director Hans Belle sees it as a blessing in disguise.

Dollar savvy Aussies are taking the currency plunge as an opportunity to trade in the overseas exploration for an adventure in their own backyard.

In fact, a survey from Tourism & Transport Forum found 5 per cent of travellers had already made the switch because of the fall, and 15 per cent expected to travel domestically in the future.

And it’s not just Aussies making the most of the weaker dollar – international tourism into Australia is expected to rise further in 2019 after a 6 per cent increase last year.

“When the dollar is weaker overseas guests like to come to Australia because they’re getting better value for their international dollars,” Belle told Travel Weekly.

“But Aussies also tend to stick to domestic travel when the dollar is weaker and get a feel for their own backyard.”

The diversity of Australia’s landscape allows Australian’s to take a domestic trip that feels like an overseas getaway without the need for a passport.

There’s just a lot of really unique tourism opportunities,” Belle said. 

As an industry, we need to do a slightly better job marketing our destinations and experiences.”

Australians are going to travel internationally, that’s a given, but they’re also going to travel domestically and for us, it’s making sure that they understand more of the different styles of domestic travel and what opportunities there are.”

And with so many public holidays coming up in the first quarter of this year, agents are sure to be inundated by travellers looking for short domestic breaks.

16581 Kings Canyon_AAT Kings

Despite popular opinion, Belle said travellers need an agents touch when it comes to many domestic trips.

“Travellers like having the security of everything being booked and confirmed for them,” he said.

“Plus, they’ve got someone who can help them if anything goes wrong. 

“If it’s just a simple drive to Canberra or a night in Melbourne, people will book themselves. But if you’re going to take three or four days plus some touring plus some accommodation and so forth in any non-metropolitan area, you’re going to need an experienced agent.”

Belle said AAT Kings has a huge range of short breaks for Aussies to take advantage of, with many popular trips throughout the top end of the Northern Territory.

But they also have a great range exploring the Hunter Vally, the Blue Mountains, the Great Ocean Road, Cairns and Port Douglas, just to name a few.

“We like people to be adventurous,” Belle told us. 

“If you’ve got three or four days for a long weekend get yourself to Uluru, get yourself to Alice, get yourself to Darwin, get yourself to Cairns, and make it not only a great short break holiday but make it one that’s got a bit of adventure.”

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