Australia | Domestic tourism limited by state border closures

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region have restricted entry to international travellers during the pandemic, resulting in larger negative impacts on inbound travel compared to elsewhere. However, it has also allowed the spread of the virus to be controlled relatively effectively, thus presenting the potential for a quicker return to domestic tourism. Indeed, the estimated decline in domestic hotel guests in APAC in 2020 (30%, and 26% excluding China) is the smallest of any region.

In this comprehensive 5 page report you will learn:

  • The approach to domestic travel restrictions in Australia has been very different to the rest of APAC and indeed most of the world. Many states and territories within Australia have closed their borders to domestic travellers – either those from selected states or cities or in some cases from all other states – often in response to only a small increase in new infections.

  • This cautious approach, while largely limiting the spread of infections outside NSW and Victoria, and allowing some resumption of ‘normal’ activity, has had a significant negative impact on domestic tourism, with a large share of interstate travel having been impossible for much of the year. Tourism Economics estimates that Australian domestic hotel guests in 2020 were at least 31% lower than in 2019 – the largest of all APAC countries except for China.

  • The impact of these state border restrictions is especially important to consider given that domestic travel accounted for around 80% of aggregate Travel & Tourism overnight visitors and spend in Australia in 2019, and will be key to the recovery of the industry in 2021. The potential for substitution from outbound travel to domestic by Australian residents is also limited by restrictions on interstate tourism. While baseline forecasts are for domestic visitor volumes to recover close to 2019 levels in 2021, the downside risks from ongoing state border closures are significant until a vaccine is widely distributed.

Topics: Travel, Australia, Tourism, Coronavirus

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