COVID-19’s immediate impact on domestic tourist movements across Australia will extend to sweeping long-term changes in traveller behaviour, according to a new survey.
Researchers at Flinders University have found that people are flagging future changes to their activity engagement, modes of transport, and the types of accommodation they will select once restrictions are further relaxed or eventually removed.
The survey shows that most recipients remain very cautious about recommencing leisure travel and have a list of limiting factors that will influence their future engagement in domestic and international holidays, according to lead authors Dr Gareth Butler and Dr Gerti Szili.
Almost 93 per cent of respondents placed the safety and wellbeing of themselves and their families as the most important factor when choosing to re-engage in either domestic or international leisure travel.
More than 85 per cent are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of host communities at destinations they would visit.
Other strong concerns voiced by survey recipients were their strained financial situation, fears of encountering a second wave of COVID-19 infections, and the possible need to self-quarantine after travelling.
Despite these concerns, just over two-thirds (67.2 per cent) expect to take intrastate overnight holidays within three months, and 80.1 per cent want to re-engage in day trips within three months after restrictions are relaxed or removed.
However, 29.4 per cent remain unsure when they will take interstate holidays, even if restrictions relax.
The survey results also drilled into what types of activities tourists plan to engage in, and showed a sharp decline in people prepared to attend sporting events and cultural festivals/events (more than 20 per cent).
Drops were also registered in tourist re-engagement of most other activities – the notable exception being more tourists keen to engage in planned exercise when on holiday.
Changes in tourism transport choices show expected growth in private car and campervan use for leisure journeys, but a sharp decline in all other forms of transport use (planes, mini-busses and coaches, taxis, public transport) and especially cruise ships (by a whopping 57.1 per cent).
The survey found that changes in accommodation choices will lead to substantial growth in the use of personal properties for leisure, although guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation are also likely to become more popular.
The use of hotels, motels and resorts is expected to remain stable, but more than 42 per cent of respondents say they will avoid backpacker hostels.
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