Will Australians travel differently?

With a two-way Trans-Tasman bubble set to kick off after more than a year of border closures, my mind has turned towards thinking how travel patterns may have evolved in the intervening time. Pre-Covid net spending flows between Australia and New Zealand roughly cancelled each other out – with close to $3 billion spent annually in each other’s respective backyards. But there is a sense of hope that this net flow of visitor dollars could swing in New Zealand’s favour over the year ahead given that Australia has five times our population and Australians currently have nowhere else to go.

Even if such a net gain doesn’t eventuate across New Zealand as a whole, at the very least we will be able to get some much-needed tourist dollars into struggling hotspots for Australian visitation, such as Queenstown. People across the rest of the country will also be able to enjoy linking up with friends and family, while businesspeople will be afforded the opportunity to forge better relationships with current and prospective customers, suppliers, and investors across the ditch.

With this context in mind, Tourism New Zealand has performed some very interesting research of Australians who are actively considering New Zealand as a destination. The research helps show how these Australians are viewing travel to New Zealand compared to travel elsewhere, what their motivations and concerns are, and how these intentions have evolved over recent months.

Key findings from Tourism New Zealand

Prior to Covid-19:

  • Australian visitors contributed 1.5M (40%) arrivals annually and spent $2.7b in 2019.
  • 71% of Australians opted for self-drive holidays in New Zealand.
  • Visitors from Australia returned to New Zealand 3-4 times in their lifetime providing a big opportunity to increase regional dispersal and ‘touring’ activity to increase bookings for smaller regions.
  • Seasonally, Australian holiday arrivals were balanced throughout the year. They made up 27% of holiday arrivals – but over winter this jumped to 43%.
  • 71% of all international arrivals who skied were Australian.

Impact of COVID-19 on Australians’ travel intentions:

  • According to Tourism New Zealand’s research on the impact of COVID-19 on intentions to travel, over 77% of Australians who are actively considering travelling to New Zealand will come to holiday, with 28% wanting to visit family and 18% to visit friends.
  • 60% of Australian active considerers are willing to come to New Zealand within six months of borders reopening.
  • Of these, 20% are both willing to come to New Zealand within six months, and have New Zealand as their first preference.
  • The pool of active considerers wanting to come to New Zealand within six months as their first preference is equivalent to 800,000 people.
  • Based on Tourism New Zealand scenario modelling it could take until January 2022 for Australia to reach 80% recovery to pre-COVID 19 levels.

A more detailed summary of Tourism New Zealand’s research can be downloaded here.