Disruptions to the visitor economy

A successful tourism industry relies on person-to-person interactions and the freedom to travel. As a result, Australia’s visitor economy in 2020-21 was overly affected by: 

  • international and state and territory border closures 
  • local lockdowns and mobility restrictions 
  • social distancing and capacity limits at venues 
  • health and safety concerns 
  • travel planning uncertainties 
  • accommodation, transport and workforce constraints  
  • new COVID-19 variants.

These led to a large downturn in tourism demand in 2020-21. This followed a very challenging 2019-20 (Figure 1). Compared with pre-pandemic demand of 2018-19: 

  • international visitors and spend in 2020-21 were down 98%  
  • domestic overnight visitors were down 23%, with spend falling 21% 
  • domestic day trip visitors were down 24%, with spend falling 22%.