Australia has long been a bucket list destination for longhaul travellers from the US, the UK and Europe, but intention to visit has risen dramatically throughout the pandemic, with travel agents at Australia Tourism Exchange 2022 saying their clients are eager to convert thoughts to action.
Germany-based TravelEssence’s group content manager Alexandra Anger, shared with TTG Asia that the country is relatively easy to sell.
“Many Europeans have Australia on their bucket list – it’s a dream destination to them. Pre-pandemic, there was already demand to travel to Australia, but post-lockdown, we find that people are realising that life is short, and that they better visit Australia now before another pandemic locks borders down again,” she said.
After two years of no travel, Europeans have saved a sum of money as well as accumulated a chunk of leave days, making them more willing than ever to check the box.
Florida-based Mo Noubani, president of The Travel Box International, has also noticed that the “mindset of the traveller has changed”, and his clients “who have put off (longer and more expensive) trips are now pulling the trigger to do them”.
Australia, he indicates, is one such destination.
Tom Farnworth, commercial manager of London-based Trailfinders, concurred that Australia is an “easy to sell product” to UK travellers, and his bookings are looking healthy through to 1Q/2Q2023.
Amid this optimism, airlift to Australia remains a concern, as costs are significantly higher than they were pre-pandemic.
For travellers who have confirmed their trip to Australia, Sarah Johnson from US-based Paper, Ink & Passports Travel said durations are stretching from 10 days pre-pandemic to 2.5 to three weeks now. Her FITs and luxury travel clients are also more keen on creature comforts such as premium economy seats and larger hotel rooms with balconies. They are interested to go where the locals go, and immerse themselves in cultural experiences.
A similar observation has been made by Farnworth, with clients going for longer stays and higher room categories.
“More local interactions, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences are sought after, more so than before Covid,” he stated.
Overall, travel agents expressed excitement and optimism about outbound prospects to Australia.
Anger expects European travellers to return “heavily and in large numbers” in 2H2022 or 1Q2023, as travel momentum continues to build. Europe, she noted, opened earlier than most regions, which meant that some travellers have already spent their budgets on destinations closer to home.
Agreeing, Noubani told TTG Asia: “We are very optimistic and excited about (sending travellers) to Australia. This is part of the reason we are here at Australia Tourism Exchange, and it’s great to see everyone face-to-face.
“Interest is definitely picking up, and within the next six to eight months, numbers will surge.”
Out of the 550 buyers present at this year’s Australia Tourism Exchange, around 150 longhaul buyers hailed from countries such as Canada, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US.