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Itchy feet? Here’s what 2021 travel looks like

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

This week, hundreds of travellers will fly from Australia to New Zealand without needing to go into quarantine. It’s the first time this has been possible in over 12 months and marks the start of the much-anticipated trans-Tasman bubble. In light of this milestone event, we take a look at how Australians are fulfilling wanderlust.

I was lucky enough to visit Tasmania over Easter, witnessing firsthand the state’s popularity among domestic tourists. Restaurants had waiting lists, MONA reached capacity and only one hire car was available in the entire state (for the bargain price of $337 per day). WHAT ARE OTHER STATES DOING? Recent research from Urban Insights found 84% of Australians are more interested in exploring their own backyard since COVID-19, and a spike in domestic tourism is being reported across the country. While this is all good news, only 1 in 3 people plan to spend the same amount of time and money travelling domestically as they would if they were headed abroad. Compounded by the fact international tourism brings $1 billion to the local economy each year, industry is doing it tough. Experts say if the vaccine program creeps into 2022 and the international border stays closed Australia ‘will miss out on first demand’.

Source: The Mercury Picture: Geroge Apostolidis

Tasmania leads a national boom in domestic tourism with an 11 per cent increase in takings from tourist accommodation, such as Saffire resort on the East Coast.

Australians are working from home more than they were before the pandemic. Expecting this pattern to continue, some brands are championing the remote working lifestyle. Jeep has launched ‘Working far from home’, giving one lucky winner the chance to stay in a custom Spacecube in North West Tasmania, only accessible by 4x4. It has been designed to spark a new and ongoing sense of adventure in the Australian work week – ‘one where conference calls can be taken by waterfalls and lunch breaks are replaced with nature escapes.’ The idea of 'workcations' isn't only an Australian concept though. In July the Maldives became one of the first countries to open travel to vaccinated tourists and would "allow tourists to work from any of its 1,200 islands". It has now gone one step further, in an attempt to bolster tourism and boost the economy it is offering both doses of the vaccine to tourists that reach their shores.

Image Source: CampaignBrief

Meanwhile, the world’s wealthy are spending big on holidays, as evidenced by the skyrocketing demand for private flights. In an indication of travellers seeking safety alongside luxury, small planes—those carrying four to seven passengers—are down only about 10%, as reported by Axios in March. In Australia, boutique hotels and lavish properties are booming as the wealthy crave ‘unique’ or luxury staycations and interstate experiences. The Outback Queensland Tourism Association recently reported that flash cars are zipping from Brisbane into western Queensland, an area typically visited by grey nomads in campervans and international tourists.

Image Source: Aero

Whether cruising down the coast in a Porsche, working from an Airbnb or pitching a tent for the weekend, whether COVID-19 will be the catalyst that makes a domestic holiday feel like something more than a compromise remains to be seen.

Molly Bruce


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