In this cross-posting from The Conversation, Monash University’s Isaac Gross discusses which towns could benefit from an increase in domestic tourism caused by the closure of Australia’s borders.
Christmas promises the gift of open travel within Australia, and possibly to New Zealand and even other Pacific Island nations.
But it seems increasingly likely international borders will remain largely closed until at least mid-2021. The mothballing plans of airlines such as Qantas further suggest international travel will take years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
—For any tourist attraction primarily geared to international visitors, and for the hotels, restaurants and shops that cater to that tourist traffic, this spells trouble.
In 2019 more than 9 million international tourists injected an estimated $47 billion into the Australian economy.
On the other hand, local destinations that primarily attract local tourists could be in for boom times, attracting those who might otherwise have gone overseas (in 2018-19, more than 10 million did so, spending $65 billion in the process).
Tourism, though, is not a zero-sum game. Not all of the money that might have been spent overseas will necessarily be spent on a local holiday. Even if it was, and the boom in domestic tourism more than made up for the loss of international tourists, the impact would be different across cities and locations.
That’s because local and foreign tourists tend to opt for different holiday experiences. International visitors are more attracted to the sights of Sydney and Melbourne, and the tourist hot spots of Queensland. Locals disproportionately want to get away from the city and avoid the tourist traps, relaxing in the country or on the coast.

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