Tourism in Australia


For Australia, as in New Zealand, the tourism industry is as diversified as it is significant. Pre-COVID-19, the international tourism industry in Australia was valued at AUD$45.4 billion with 8.7 million annual visitors, from key markets including Japan, China, USA, New Zealand and India. (For a breakdown on this data, visit Tourism Research Australia).

New Zealand and Australia have always enjoyed a strong trans-Tasman travel relationship, mainly due to the proximity, ease of travel and a range of products. In 2019, arrivals of Kiwis tourists into Australia reached 1.3 million, whilst 1.5 million Australians travelled across the Tasman to New Zealand.

On top of international tourism, Australians travel extensively within their own country. In 2019, domestic tourism was estimated to be worth AUD$80.7 billion to the Australian economy.

The concept of the 'Trans-Tasman Bubble' is certainly growing in momentum with the formation of the 'Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group' - a joint working group made up of health experts and airline, airport and border agency representatives from each country who are developing a comprehensive proposal for reopening the air border. The group will share this with Ministers on both sides of the Tasman in early June.

The impacts of COVID-19

The Australian tourism industry was one of the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19 in Australia and will probably be one of the last industries to fully recover. International travel is unlikely to fully open for some time, with some markets being impacted longer than others.

Tourism operators that focused on international travellers have been impacted the hardest. Airlines, airports, travel agencies, hotels, resorts, and land transport companies are the higher tier, but operations within the supply chain such as duty free shops, restaurants, taxis, Uber, cafes, bars, day tours, shows, concerts, money exchange, galleries, museums, markets and governments have all been impacted.

Australians traveling to New Zealand

Australia is New Zealand's largest international travel market, with almost 1.5 million Australians travelling to New Zealand last year. New Zealand is also the number one international destination choice for Australians.

71% of Australians visiting New Zealand opted for self-drive and 57% were repeat visitors. On average, an Australian visitor to New Zealand will return 3-4 times, and almost 50% use a travel agent.

Post COVID-19 and depending upon airline capacity and social distancing practices, the demand for travel to New Zealand is expected to be very high. Summer is the peak travel period for Australians visiting New Zealand, but should restrictions ease sooner, a big influx of Aussie skiers is expected.

It is also worth noting that the Australian domestic tourism market is worth AUD$87 billion per annum. That is a bigger market opportunity than the combined value of other international markets into New Zealand.

Opportunities and impacts for New Zealand tourism and businesses

Both the Australian and New Zealand tourism industry has been strongly impacted by COVID-19. Here are a few thoughts on what opportunities may arise in this sector:

  • Australia is already the number one market for New Zealand, and this is likely to increase if travel between the countries is allowed. It will involve new markets segments or the opportunity to grow existing ones.

  • The length of stay will probably increase as Australians will feel the need to get away for longer.

  • Average spend will also probably increase, as travel becomes a desired escapism and treat following this period of limited movement and restrictions.

  • Regional areas of New Zealand will be appealing and highly sought as many visitors will be returning and looking to experience something new.

  • Higher demand for outdoor-related tourism (such as guided walks, bike trails, hiking, kayaks) as consumers look to escape and maintain exercise.

  • Demand for campervans and self-drive is expected to increase.

  • New tourism sectors may evolve.

  • Joint Venture and acquisition opportunities may increase across both countries.

  • Any technology that enhances the travel experience (such as information sharing and experience sharing) will be sought.

  • Industrial design capabilities – use of space and social distance management.

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.