DestinationsHealth is no longer top priority for travellers as they grapple with rising costs across the board.

Mind on the money: Travellers pick wealth over health

The growing trend for more affordable short-haul vacations sees Singaporeans go crazy for Australia.
The growing trend for more affordable short-haul vacations sees Singaporeans go crazy for Australia. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Kitsada Wetchasart

Travellers’ fears about wealth have overtaken fears about health, according to new research by Tourism Australia.

Phillipa Harrison, managing director Tourism Australia, believes there is a “very clear shift” taking place in the minds of travellers around the world.

“Priorities are shifting very clearly from health concerns about the pandemic, to wealth concerns, things like the cost of living, fuel and energy costs, and interest rates.”

Harrison said while financial barriers were overtaking Covid barriers when people were considering travel to Australia, “in some ways, we're back in familiar territory, and we know how to deal with this.

“And that's quite a stark contrast from the last couple of years when it feels like we've been reacting to all the things that kept coming at us as an industry, and in our everyday lives.”

Harrison speaking at an industry webinar, said although many challenges to travel were ongoing - most evidently the lack of airline capacity - “there’s some good news in that we're seeing consumer behaviour stabilising. It is becoming more predictable”.

“And while demand is still down versus 2019, planning for the immediate term and predicting future growth feels like it's more back to what we know.”

The challenge for Australia, Harrison said, is that outbound travel was still outpacing inbound and short-haul travel was winning out over long-haul.

“We're seeing a big global trend with travellers staying a little bit closer to home.”

Harrison said the trend to shorter haul travel was producing “quite extraordinary results” for Australia from South-east Asia.

“Singapore is currently sitting at 163% of 2019 bookings. And this is down from an extraordinary high of 226% in April. Malaysia is also in positive territory with a 10% increase on 2019.”

Harrison’s comments coincided with new search data from Agoda showing the number of international travellers looking for an Australian getaway has increased by 300% in the past six months.

According to Agoda, Singapore and the US are still strong origin markets, but South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have emerged as “hot” new markets for Australia.

Agoda’s Oceania director, Zsuzsanna Janos, said, it was vital for Australian hotel owners to tap into these markets, while recognising the need to deliver value at a time when global inflation and the cost of living are rising.

“Not all Asian markets are the same. And we are seeing differences in how they search and book their holidays, and what they are seeking when they come to Australia,” Janos said.

“For example, travellers from South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia are looking for more than just a hotel – they want to experience local culture, food, wine, nature and wildlife, and engage in activities that allow them to get more from their trip.

“And if they can make savings on their hotel costs through special rates and incentive programmes, at this time when the global economy is challenging, we are finding it's often the catalyst for them to confirm a booking.”

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