September 28, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Tourism Research Australia has released domestic and international visitation figures for the year to June 2022, which quantifies the near full recovery of domestic travel, while international visitation is performing reasonably well considering the status of international borders during the data period.

Domestic travel recovers strongly

With the first half of the year characterised by hard lockdowns of more than half of Australia’s population and hard domestic border closures, followed by a shadow lockdown in January brought on by Australia’s Omicron COVID wave, domestic travel had a strong rebound in the back end of the reporting period, with overnight spend at $69 billion – down 11 per cent on 2019 – and overnight trips at 85.8 million, down 24 per cent.

In the latest complete quarter – April to June 2022, domestic visitor spend was up 29 per cent on the same quarter in 2019, at $25.3 billion. Overnight trips and nights on each trip were down slightly on 2019 – six per cent and two per cent respectively.

Regional Australian destinations performed more strongly for domestic visitation than major cities, with the number of overnight trips to regional areas down just 16 per cent for the year – compared to 37 per cent for capital cities – and spend up six per cent in regional areas over the year. In capital cities, spending was down 29 per cent compared to 2019.

International markets coming back more slowly

Figures for international travel to Australia appear less impressive, but when taking into account that Australia’s international border was closed for almost two thirds of the year and the near total absence of Chinese visitors, which made up Australia’s largest inbound market pre-pandemic, the statistics indicate a reasonable recovery to date and highlight emerging markets for Australia.

Overall, total spend from international visitation was $9.7 billion, which represents 22 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and total international visitors were 1.1 million, which is 13 per cent of pre-COVID numbers. Nights spent in Australia by international travellers were 80.7 million, which, at 30 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, indicates trips are longer now than in 2019.

In terms of key source markets, unsurprisingly, given the Chinese government’s COVID policies, numbers of visitors from China were down over 97 per cent, while India surged into the top five inbound countries for the first time, with 129,000 visitors travelling to Australia – 37 per cent of pre-COVID figures. India’s numbers represent the strongest recovery of tourists from a single country travelling to Australia. Spend by Indian travellers was just above pre-pandemic levels. The second best visitor recovery came from Singapore, with travellers from the city state at 26 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

New Zealand was the strongest international source market, despite visitor numbers at just 14 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, followed by India, the UK – 18 per cent of pre-COVID numbers – Singapore and the United States (91,000 visitors, representing 12 per cent of 2019 levels).

Reasons for travel in 2022 compared to 2019 reveal business travel makes up a similar percentage of visitation as they used to, while holiday makers are significantly down and those visiting family and friends are up by 25 per cent.