CATO view: New outbound research

BRETT Jardine, Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators

New outbound research

Australians are renowned as passionate and adventurous travellers, but what really makes them tick?

The Council of Australian Tour Operators’ (CATO) is hoping to answer that question with the release of a new report that takes in-depth look at the outbound leisure market, providing insight for all industry stakeholders and government bodies.

Drawing on information compiled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 2018 and an extensive independent consumer survey conducted by CATO, the Australians on Holiday — International Leisure Travel Trends report provides explores the scale, nature, contribution and potential of Australia’s outbound leisure market. The inaugural report shows that in 2018, Australian holidaymakers:

  • took 6.3 million overseas leisure trips (representing 57.1% of all outbound departures);
  • spent more than $46 billion;
  • spent on average $7,300 per person per trip; and
  • visited an average 3.4 countries per trip and enjoyed an average journey length of 22 days.

It also shows that South East Asia was by far the most popular region for a break, accounting for 35% of all holiday departures — more than the combined total of the next two most popular destinations, Oceania (16%) and Europe (16%).

In terms of most popular countries, Indonesia sat head-and-shoulders above the competition, while Asian nations filled nine of the top 15 holiday destinations in 2018.

Future reports, using comparative data, will reveal holiday trends across all key areas, but in 2018 we can already identify interesting differences between age groups. In particular, a greater tendency for older travellers (51+ years) to operate with larger holiday budgets, take longer breaks and explore long-haul destinations such as Europe. At the same time, the report highlighted a propensity for travellers who have entered retirement — a group set to expand significantly over the next decade — to gradually take fewer (albeit longer) overseas trips.

While Australians aged 18-35 years were the most active travellers in 2018, the appeal of an overseas holiday was strong across almost all age groups, with demand only began to taper off once travellers moved into the 71+ age bracket.

Possibly one of the most interesting findings from the CATO report was that almost a quarter of Australians travelled alone on a holiday in 2018, the remainder holidaying as part of a group.

To read the full report visit