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VFR Travel: It is underestimated


The aim of this research paper was to look at the measurement of VFR Travel in three different destinations in Australia to investigate whether any patterns emerged across contrasting destinations and identify the size of the three VFR types.

Key findings

  • Official data measure VFR in one of two ways – purpose of visit, or type of accommodation; but this is not a measurement of the size by volume of VFR travel.
  • There are three VFR types – those that stay with friends and relatives and also state a VFR purpose of visit; those that state a VFR purpose of visit but stay in commercial accommodation; and those that stay with friends and relatives but do not state that VFR is their main purpose of visit.
  • The size of VFR in Australia is around 48% of Australia’s total overnight tourism market.
  • The proportion of VFR travellers staying in commercial accommodation can be substantial in some destinations.

Implications for Practice

  • VFR travel is larger than is often understood, as using official data (purpose of visit or accommodation) will only provide the measurement of those components – not the size of VFR.
  • VFR travellers do use commercial accommodation and as such can provide a lucrative market for operators. As a conservative average figure based on primary research, 20% of VFRs stay in commercial accommodation.
  • VFR travellers spend money across a wide range of categories and also engage local residents in ‘tourism’ activities.
  • In some destinations, the VFR trip spend is not significantly different to that of non-VFRs.
  • VFRs spend significantly more than non-VFRs across many categories.
  • VFRs come from different geographic areas to non-VFRs. Therefore, marketing to the leisure market and assuming those promotions will pick up VFRs is unlikely to be successful.
  • VFRs take notice of the advice of their friends/relatives about the destination and therefore it is important to market to the local community to ensure they are aware of what is in their own region to optimise VFR spend and experience.



Publication details


Publication Title:



VFR Travel: It is underestimated

Full Publication Reference:

Publication Author or Authors:

Dr Elisa Backer

Proposed by


Elisa Backer


(03) 5327 9645



Senior Lecturer in Tourism


Federation University, Australia