JAYSON Westbury, chief executive AFTA
Diverse travel experiences
As the Australian outbound travel industry continues to hold strongly with signs that 2019 will have around a 4% increase in passenger departures from Australia it would seem that Aussies are looking for more and more unique and different things to do while on holiday.
Niche, unusual, out of the ordinary, dynamic, adventurous and different are all emerging as things that consumers are looking for. This includes of course, the topic of the cover story for this month’s issue of travelBulletin, dark tourism.
It was about a year ago that I heard that term for the first time while at a conference in China. It’s not the best label but it is becoming a term that is being used more and more. I guess the thing is that as consumers seek out and look for different things to do, visiting and seeing things that might be on the dark side becomes more common.
Other terms for specialised holidays which are also emerging across the industry include babymoon — the holiday you take just before you have a baby, flashpacking — the holiday you take with a backpack but stay in fancy places, bragability — the holiday you take just for the purpose of bragging about it and on social media in the main, and lastly seniors backpacking — the holiday that seniors take with a backpack the way they wish they had all those years ago.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of other new terms floating around the industry and some of these things really take off and some don’t. The point is that as consumers in Australia become more travelled (remember 56% of the population holds a valid passport, one of the largest penetration rates in the world) new ideas and fresh thinking need to be a part of the travel industry.
We are lucky we have such a large outbound industry. In fact, Australia is the 8th largest outbound industry in the world by numbers, not per capita, and long may that be. The important thing for everyone in the travel value chain is that we remain open-minded and prepared to service consumers with holidays that meet their needs, particularly as their needs change.
So as dark tourism becomes more of a thing going forward I guess the key thing is that we are all tuned into this — clearly there may well be a load of new opportunities out there to bring new and more of these types of trips to market or to make dark tourism a component of a touring itinerary.
Not sure I will be rushing to book a three night stay in a prison cell anytime soon, or complete a 10 graveyards in a day tour, flashpacking seems more up my alley — but of course that is the benefit of having a broad-ranging and full product selection for Australia holiday makers to consider.
We are very fortunate that we have the level of diversity and products on offer in the Australian travel market.