Following two years in and out of lockdown, new data from CommBank iQ is showing that Australians are rediscovering their desire to travel, both domestically and internationally. According to recent figures from CommBank iQ, nearly 50% of Australians have already spent on travel in 2022, and many are in planning mode for what is shaping up to be a bumper year in travel.

CommBank iQ is a joint venture between the Commonwealth Bank and leading data analytics company Quantium, established in 2021 to unlock the power of Australia’s largest aggregated and de-identified transaction banking dataset through leading analytics and artificial intelligence.

Payments analysis produced by CommBank iQ shows that travel spending has recovered to pre-Covid levels in recent months, with spending in April 10% higher than in the same month in 2019. Spending on airlines, tourist attractions and hotels and motels increased, although travel agents and car hire are yet to recover. A global supply chain shortage in the automotive industry is hitting car hire companies, which are struggling for inventory.

Head of customer solutions at CommBank iQ, Wade Tubman, says CommBank iQ’s data indicates that there are already solid travel bookings in the year ahead, across all the major categories.

“Airline and hotel bookings are up and we’re seeing travel agent bookings start to rise again so our viewpoint for the rest of the year is we’re not going to see a decline,” says Tubman.

Domestic recovery

According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, there were 610,000 departures overseas in April alone, but there was also an uplift in the number of Australians keen to travel right here.

Tourism Australia’s most recent release of its Travel Sentiment Tracker indicated over 70% of those surveyed are either considering or are keen to travel domestically and they intend doing it within the next six months.

Tubman says many Australians have decided to explore their own backyard by travelling interstate.

“People from NSW heading interstate has risen by 29% on 2019 figures and 36% for Victorians travelling domestically,” Tubman says.

“Australians are also seeking warmer climates, with Queensland seeing a 43% jump in visitor numbers from NSW and a whopping 78% from Victoria based on 2019 figures.”

Tasmania and South Australia have also seen an increase in visitor numbers, while Western Australia has been slow to see a tourism spike as its borders remained closed until more recently.”

Once Australians are also spending more on their accommodation than they may have previously, choosing more expensive options or longer stays.

As for who’s travelling, Tubman says those aged over 55 are making up for lost time, with 7% more in that age category now travelling than in 2019, while young families are the most likely travellers, with almost two-thirds of them having taken or planning a trip, potentially to reconnect with distant relatives or friends.

Based on CommBank iQ’s figures, Tubman is optimistic about the future because consumers are keen to travel across the board.

“We looked at so many different angles and they all came up positive, so I think it is a really good sign.”

Outdoor entertainment fuelling local tourism

Also on the rise was out of home entertainment spending which rose by 6% in April, and up 14% from their pre-pandemic levels in 2019 according to the CommBank iQ figures. This can be attributed to increased activity around major sporting events, concerts and theatre alongside eating and drinking out.

Belinda Hann, CommBank iQ head of customer says it’s great to see that Australians are embracing local tourist attractions and entertainment, since these local businesses suffered the most throughout Covid lockdowns.

“Everything from museums to zoos, concerts, sporting events and theme parks has surged in popularity. State government incentives such as the Dine & Discover vouchers in NSW have helped to accelerate this spending around outdoor entertainment and tourism, a much-needed incentive to give these businesses the boost they need to endure the impacts from Covid.

“Our CommBank iQ data is showing that all entertainment spending is now above pre-Covid levels, and with the continued reopening of the entertainment and arts industries, we should see this rise over the coming months ahead,” Hann says.

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