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Travelling in our own back yards

Coastal, country and regional areas are likely to see the biggest growth in domestic tourism once restrictions relating to the Coronavirus are lifted.

That’s according to a recent survey by the University of Queensland Business School which found more than 50 per cent of Australians hope to travel domestically when restrictions lift.

The survey, which sought the opinions of more than 500 Australians, found most respondents would prefer to drive to their destination rather than fly or take public transport.

The research also shows destinations outside the major cities of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide are likely to see the biggest tourist numbers.

The findings support a report by market intelligence group MyTravelResearch.com and research platform Glow which found Australia’s beleaguered bushfire affected communities are likely to be among the more popular domestic travel destinations post COVID-19.

The data showed that 53 per cent of Australians’ future travel plans were influenced by bushfire recovery initiatives.

The research of 1,200 people (72 per cent of which were from metropolitan communities and 28 per cent of which were from regional communities) found 43 per cent of those surveyed would travel in Australia in the coming six months.

Nearly half (49 per cent) said they would, when safe and allowed to do so, consider travelling to a less densely populated area to lower their risk of contracting the virus.

Commenting on the findings, University of Queensland Business School researcher Associate Professor Gabby Walters says despite the fact Australians were being encouraged by federal and state governments to stay at home at present, many of those surveyed had already started researching their next holiday.

“They’re searching for accommodation options and destination-related information that includes attractions and local restaurants and cafes, so they are ready to take their next trip once they’re able to do so.”

Dr Walters says the pandemic has changed our travel behaviours and this will mean that tourism may look slightly different once the restrictions are lifted.

“Our data showed that tourists care more about hygiene standards – in accommodation, airlines, public transport, public facilities and recreational sites – than they did prior to the coronavirus.”

MyTravelResearch.com CEO Carolyn Childs says COVID-19 was the second blow of 2020 for Australian communities still suffering from the effects of the bushfires and drought that are dependent on tourism to help them rebuild their livelihoods.

“While the fall-out of this global crisis leaves devastating impacts across the travel industry, the shift in focus from international air travel to local trips – perhaps starting with day [trips] or nanocations when it is safe to do so, could provide a beacon of hope in an otherwise heartbreaking year for our regional communities.”

Dr Walters agrees Australia’s tourism industry has been heavily impacted as a result of the double whammy, but reiterates the number one motivator for future travel was to support the country’s economy and help boost the tourism sector.

“This news that many Aussies are looking to travel locally as soon as they can is great for tourism operators, sector workers and the industry as a whole.”

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