With the events of 2020 having changed the landscape of international tourism – a situation set to continue in 2021 and beyond – Tourism Australia Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison has shared her views on the year’s top travel trends, from how tourism businesses operate to what travellers prioritise.
Here are Harrison’s predictions:
Trend 1: Naturally wide-open and remote destinations deemed safer
With people craving wide-open spaces, fresh air and nature more than ever, Australia’s nature will be more desirable in 2021. Tourism Australia’s most recent consumer research, called the Consumer Demand Project, demonstrates that destinations with wide-open spaces feel safer for travellers – and, after spending more time at home last year than ever before, people are developing a new appreciation for being out in nature.
Trend 2: Safety is key
In the eyes of international travellers, Australia’s association with safety and security has risen from 43% to 49%, and from 47% to 56% in relation to nature and wildlife. This shift shows elements that were once perceived as Australia’s barriers – isolation from the rest of the world and a large, sparsely populated land – are more desirable amongst travellers, post-COVID-19. Tourism Australia’s most recent research shows global travellers’ perceptions of Australia as a safe destination is increasing, and Australia is now the country most associated with safety and security, moving ahead of Japan.
Trend 3: Travel as a force for good
Today’s travellers are increasingly seeking out brands and experiences that are not only good for them, but good for the world around them. This can take many forms, from supporting local businesses by shopping big at a local winery, bakery or butcher, to getting hands-on with bushfire restoration efforts via recovery tours and experiences such as planting a tree to help re-establish koala habitats in affected areas. Tourism Australia’s consumer research supports this ‘force for good’ trend, showing that 91% like to travel to become more open-minded and knowledgeable about the world, and 74% are actively seeking out travel experiences that allow them to give back to a destination.
Trend 4: Indigenous experiences on the rise
Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a rich, living culture dating back at least 60,000 years. Year on year, more and more travellers actively seek out and discover Indigenous tourism experiences throughout the country that allow them to connect with and learn more about Australia’s First Nations People. Warm, welcoming and generous of spirit, they offer a means of connecting with Australian places and cultures quite unlike anything else. According to the International Visitor Survey, in 2019 alone, approximately 1.35 million international visitors took part in an Indigenous experience on their holiday – a figure that has grown by 5% each year over the past six years.
Trend 5: Travel to regenerate
Following the turbulence of 2020, the desire to use travel as a moment to reconnect and regenerate will dominate in 2021. Soft adventure experiences like multi-day walks and wellness travel (i.e., spa holidays, yoga retreats) have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and the pandemic has only amplified the desire for this style of holiday. Destinations and experiences that leave travellers feeling calm and rejuvenated – whether it’s an all-inclusive multi-day hike or an off-grid eco-cabin stay – are expected to be popular with travellers.
Images: Walkers on South Australia’s Heysen Trail (top) and Tourism Australia Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison (below).
15th January 2021 – Queensland Government announces $200,000 in new funding for cultural tourism
14th January 2021 – TCWA says one in five Western Australian tourism businesses at risk if JobKeeper ends
4th January 2021 – Policy body warns that thousands of tourism businesses face closure without $1 billion lifeline
29th December 2020 – Preparing for a tourism revival in 2021
24th December 2020 – UNWTO points to tourism ‘looking forward with determination’
18th December 2020 – Cabinet reshuffle sees Dan Tehan named new Federal Tourism Minister
17th December 2020 – WTTC releases major new guidelines for Inclusion and Diversity to aid tourism sector
10th December 2020 – Insurance crisis set to force closures of Australian attractions and adventure tourism businesses
17th November 2020 – Tourism Australia research shows cautious optimism in planning domestic events
6th November 2020 – Tourism Australia’s Business Events Boost Program awards 86 successful applicants
7th October 2020 – Ecotourism Australia questions ‘optimistic’ budget assumptions
21st August 2020 – Tourism Australia appointment to drive future growth
13th August 2020 – Indigenous tourism hit hard by Coronavirus crisis
19th February 2020 – Noosa to host Australia’s inaugural Wellness Tourism Industry Summit
23rd January 2020 – Tourism Australia launches $20 million campaign to support bushfire affected industry
19th November 2019 – Northern Territory releases 10-year Aboriginal Tourism Strategy
11th November 2019 – Queensland Government announces 2020 as the Year of Indigenous Tourism
13th September 2019 – Tourism Australia confirms Phillipa Harrison as new Managing Director
14th November 2018 – New study reveals strong ongoing growth in wellness tourism
18th July 2017 – Outgoing WTTC head outlines future global tourism trends
9th July 2017 – NSW the leading State for Aboriginal tourism
9th November 2016 – Bushwalking and shopping rank as most popular Australian holiday activities
20th October 2016 – Mornington Peninsula hot springs to be exploited for wellness tourism
17th December 2008 – TTF expects downward tourism trend to continue
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