Latest National Visitor Survey (NVS) results

Year Ending March 2020

The recent bushfires and Coronavirus (COVID-19) have had an enormous impact on Australia’s domestic tourism market. Our monthly snapshots make it easier to monitor changes in tourism activity in your state or territory and nationally.

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National Visitor Survey (NVS) Methodology 2019 Onwards

With 97% of the Australian population aged 15 years or more owning a mobile phone, Tourism Research Australia transitioned NVS sampling to 100% mobile phone interviewing and discontinued landline sampling in 2019.

This change has improved the accuracy of national, state and territory estimates.

However, the transition from the 50% mobile phone/50% landline split resulted in an unavoidable break in series between data for 2019 onwards and earlier NVS data.

It should also be noted that Year ending March 2020 estimates are based exclusively on mobile interviewing whereas March 2019 estimates use a mix of 100% mobile interviewing (March quarter 2019) and 50/50 mobile and landline interviewing for the June through December quarters of 2018.

Please use caution when making comparisons between year ending March 2020 estimates and those from the previous year and earlier periods, as the methodology change is likely to affect results.

Note that 2017 and 2018 estimates were also revised in 2019 to align with the latest release of ABS population projections that are used to benchmark NVS results to the Australian population. Therefore, the new estimates for these years differ from previously published figures.

For further information, see our Changes to the National Visitor Survey in 2019 fact sheet.

Overnight Spend

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$78.8 billion increase 6%

Overnight trips

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112.3 million increase 3%

Nights

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405 million increase 5%

Key findings

  • Domestic overnight tourism showed considerable growth for the year ending March 2020 despite the effects of the Australian 2019-2020 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, with overnight spend up 6% to $78.8 billion and overnight trips up 3% to 112.3 million.
  • The summer bushfires and COVID-19 had a significant effect on overnight domestic tourism in the March quarter 2020, with overnight trips falling 18% and spend down 10% to $17.9 billion.
  • The summer bushfires contributed to falls of 6% and 7% in overnight trips in the months of January and February 2020, with sharp falls in visitor numbers seen in New South Wales in January 2020, dropping 16% to 3.3 million trips and Victoria in February 2020, dropping 14% to 2.0 million visitors. Spend also fell 5% in February to $4.7 billion, with the largest fall observed in South Australia, dropping 21% to $325 million.
  • Measures imposed in Australia in the month of March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on domestic tourism in the March quarter, with overnight trips falling 39% and spend down 41% or $2.6 billion for the month of March.
  • One in three residents reported changing travel plans for trips within Australia due to COVID-19. Of those that did make a change, 66% reported cancelling and 28% delaying or postponing a trip while one in four Australians reported changing overseas travel plans.
  • With outbound travel by Australian residents currently limited, there is potential for Australians to redirect some of the $65.5 billion they spent overseas in 2019 on travel within Australia. In May and June 2020 more than half (53%) of those interviewed planned to take a domestic trip within the next 3 months and 80% within the next 12 months.