Australia’s regional destinations performed better than capital cities in terms of tourism spending and visitor numbers in August, new figures have revealed.
Tourism Research Australia’s (TRA’s) National Visitor Survey Monthly Snapshot for August 2020 found that domestic overnight trip spending in Sydney dropped 85 per cent (from August 2019), compared to 28 per cent in regional New South Wales.
Spending in Brisbane and the Gold Coast also fell 49 per cent, compared to six per cent for regional Queensland.
The latest figures also revealed that regional areas recorded increased numbers of domestic overnight visitors during August, including South Australia (up six per cent), Western Australia (up four per cent) and Queensland (up three per cent).
TRA noted there was a softening in the number of visitors and spend in NSW in August 2020 (down 38 per cent and 51 per cent respectively).
This was due to a deterioration in interstate travel from Victoria and Queensland that, unlike some other states, was not offset by an increase in intrastate travel, according to TRA.
Overall, overnight trips fell 40 per cent to 5.2 million in August. Spending fell further, down 53 per cent to $3 billion (a loss of $3.3 billion compared to August 2019).
TRA said the larger decline in spending can be attributed to large losses in higher-value interstate travel, which was due to border closures and the limited capacity to participate in various activities due to social distancing rules.
In the 2020 calendar year to August, domestic visitation across Australia fell 42 per cent and visitor spend a dramatic 47 per cent, reflecting the massive impact of the COVID pandemic and bushfire crisis.
Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC), said with the nation proving its collective suppression of the virus, remaining state and territory border blockages simply needed to be timetabled to lift.
“The impact of COVID-19 and the earlier bushfire crisis have delivered terrible domestic visitor spend and travel activity outcomes this year, and recovery won’t be easy,” he said.
“The latest domestic tourism numbers cannot be sugar-coated and reflect the serious state of our industry, yet one now admirably trying to recover and sustainably rebuild in a COVID safe way.
“Fully re-opening all state and territory borders to all Australians is the number one, immediate priority for our tourism regions, and will best support tens of thousands of businesses and jobs.”
Westaway said a new national tourism and visitor economy strategy and plan, beyond the completed Tourism2020, also must now be expedited, including a sharp focus on sustainable recovery.
“ATIC calls for the re-boot of activity for a new tourism plan, Tourism2030 – one that incorporates immediate actions to help best position Australian tourism within the new COVID economy,” he said.
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