Tourism Research Australia (TRA) has reported a 29% increase in domestic visitor spend to AU$5.7 billion in the June quarter when compared to the same period in 2019, despite a 6% drop in overnight trips.

Sharing its update on World Tourism Day, Thursday September 27, TRA reported that Australia’s international visitors are still at only 37% of pre-pandemic numbers, having welcomed 686,000 visitors from overseas in the June quarter. Over half of these travellers reported visiting friends or relatives as the main reason for their trip.

Minister for Trade and Tourism Hon Don Farrell addressed the results saying he will do his part to help rebuild the industry.

“Tourism is not only a huge employer and a large export earner for Australia – it also promotes our unique cultural, geographical and biodiverse destinations,” he said.

“There are still challenges to overcome, but it is excellent to see our regions doing so well as tourism recovers.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to help Australia’s $166 billion tourism industry return to the economic powerhouse we know it to be.”

Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director Peter Shelley said there is a lot of work to be done to draw international visitors back, particularly when so many Australians are venturing on overseas trips.

“While it’s great to see Australians travelling internationally again, we need to ensure energy is also focused on rebuilding Australia’s decimated $45bn tourism export sector in order to attract high spending international visitors and ensure the industry’s balance of trade is making a positive contribution to reducing our national debt,” said Shelley.

“More than 345,000 Australians returned from an overseas holiday in July compared to only 93,000 international visitors choosing to holiday here in the same month, a significant imbalance of 252,000.”

Speaking to the reasons travellers are visiting Australia, Shelley said much less economic benefit from those coming to visit family and friends compared with an international holidaymaker.

“While the number of travellers arriving from overseas to visit their friends and family has picked up quite quickly, the number of inbound holiday makers is still only 26% of July 2019 when close to 350,000 people arrived here for an Australian holiday,” he said.

“We must invest in the recovery of our tourism export sector to ensure inbound visitation keeps pace with the number of Australians heading overseas for their holidays.”

He called on all levels of government to prioritise the recovery of inbound holiday numbers by tackling any potential obstacles deterring travellers from visiting Australia.

“Tourism is an obvious key in our economic rebuild and one that requires very little investment to achieve a great payback,” he said.