Australia’s visitor economy continued to be deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. This report uses data from multiple sources to highlight various industry and government pandemic responses during the year.
While Australia’s visitor economy has shown resilience and persistence since the pandemic began, 2021 was a particularly difficult year. However, 2021 also saw the:
These factors spurred rising optimism for 2022.
The visitor economy outlook is more positive now than during the past two years. However, conditions are still challenging and recovery will take time, particularly for businesses and regions reliant on international tourists. The visitor economy also faces serious labour shortages and increased international competition.
2022 will be a critical year for the industry as the recovery gains momentum. The THRIVE 2030 Strategy for the Australian visitor economy is an industry-led, government-enabled plan. It provides an action plan to rebuild and grow the sector. It aims to see visitor economy spend reach $230 billion by the year 2030.
TRA has changed the format of the State of the Industry report this year to reflect the depth of changes in the visitor economy over recent years. This year, the report:
|Demand metric||Description||2019 value||2021 value||Change 2021 on 2019 (pre-pandemic)||Change 2021 on 2020|
|Total visitor spend||Combined value of total international visitor and total domestic visitor spend (in Australia only, excluding international students staying more than 12 months)||$138.5 billion||$80.4 billion||-42% down||14% up|
|International visitor spend||Spend from international visitors in Australia only (excluding international students staying more than 12 months)||$31.4 billion||$1.4 billion||-96% down||-82% down|
|Domestic overnight visitor spend||Spend by Australian residents who travel away from home for at least one night||$80.7 billion||$60.7 billion||-25% down||33% up|
|Domestic day trip visitor spend||Spend by Australian residents travelling on a day trip (more than 4 hours and 50 km round-trip from their home)||$26.3 billion||$18.3 billion||-31% down||5% up|
|Total visitor economy spend*||Combined value of total international visitor and total domestic visitor spend (in Australia only) including international students staying more than 12 months||$166.4 billion||$102.8 billion||-38% down||4% up|
|International visitors||All international visitors to Australia aged 15 or over who stay less than 12 months||8.7 million||223.7 thousand||-97% down||-87% down|
|International student enrolments||Enrolments by students studying in Australia on a student visa across all sectors||952.2 thousand||716.9 thousand||-25% down||-19% down|
|Domestic overnight trips||Australian residents aged 15 or over who travel away from home for at least one night||117.4 million||82.1 million||-30% down||13% up|
|Domestic day trips||Australian residents aged 15 or over travelling on a day trip (more than 4 hours and 50 km round-trip from their home)||248.3 million||160.5 million||-35% down||-2% down|
|Domestic outbound trips**||Australian residents aged 15 or over travelling out of Australia for less than 12 months||9.9 million||228 thousand||-98% down||-95% down|
* This metric aligns with the THRIVE 2030 Strategy spend targets
** Data for year ending September (outbound data is only available with a 3-month lag).
|Supply metric||Description||2019 value||2021 value||Change 2021 on 2019 (pre-pandemic)||Change 2021 on 2020|
|Accommodation rooms||Total number of rooms available in accommodation establishments with 10 rooms or more||304.9 thousand||308.8 thousand||1% up||7% up|
|Accommodation occupancy||Percentage of rooms sold, or occupied in establishments of 10 rooms or more||70.9%||53.3%||-18 percentage points (ppts) down||10ppts up|
|International aviation seats||Total number of seats available on flights to Australia||26.8 million||3.6 million||-86% down||-50% down|
|International aviation load factor||Percentage of seats on flights into Australia occupied by revenue passengers||81.7%||19.3%||-62ppts down||-48ppts down|
|Domestic aviation seats||Number of seats available to people flying within Australia||69.0 million||30.8 million||-55% down||32% up|
|Domestic aviation load factor||Percentage of seats on domestic flights occupied by revenue passengers||75.4%||54.7%||-21ppts down||-2ppts down|
|Tourism investment*||Total value of investment in tourism infrastructure projects valued over $20 million||$45.3 billion||$41.8 billion||-8% down||-4% down|
|Tourism jobs||Number of filled jobs in the tourism industry||749.4 thousand||628.9 thousand||-16% down||no change|
|Tourism businesses*||Number of Australian businesses in tourism-related industries||320.7 thousand||334.5 thousand||4% up||3% up|
* Data for year ending June (financial year basis).
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Tourism Satellite Accounts: quarterly tourism labour statistics, Australia, experimental estimates, December 2021, accessed May 2022
STR, subscription data, accessed May 2022