Domestic tourism numbers a mixed bag in 2020 Feb 9, 2021


After a year disrupted by catastrophic bushfires, lockdowns and border closures, the tourism numbers in 2020 turned up some interesting results.

The latest National Visitor Survey, by Tourism Research Australia, indicates that many Queenslanders chose to support local tourism while the state’s border was predominately closed to other states.

Between June and September 2020, the Sunshine Coast saw a 40% increase in intrastate visitors, compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Although visitor numbers in the region were down overall, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel said the increase in local visitors helped to shield the Sunshine Coast from a much larger drop in tourism.

“It’s encouraging to hear that many of our Sunshine Coast operators have also enjoyed a strong summer period,” Mr Stoeckel said.

“However, many operators that have been unable to pivot their business to cater for an intrastate market are still doing it really tough, and there is still a lot more work to be done to support these operators [as they] navigate their way through COVID-19.”

Despite the increase in local visitors, many tourist regions remain concerned about the ongoing problems with interstate visitors. The outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches (and the subsequent state border closures) saw the Australian tourism industry take a big hit over the traditionally busy Christmas period.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond told the ABC that operators had lost billions of dollars as a result of the Christmas border closures. She called for a uniform system for state border restrictions and for more Government support provided to the struggling industry.

“The Government is going to have to think very seriously [about] how it supports this industry for the next couple of years, not just the next couple of months, if it wants to have a tourism industry when we actually reopen our international borders,” Ms Osmond said.

JobKeeper payments are set to end by the end of March, but overall, visitor numbers in Australia are still significantly down. Many regions reliant on tourism are hoping 2021 will bring more certainty around domestic travel.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler told the Guardian the closure of the Queensland border to greater Sydney saw the Whitsundays tourist region suffer significant losses. She says that even an increase to intrastate visitors would not be enough to make up for the gap left by interstate visitors.

“We might still get people come and stay in our accommodation from regional Queensland, but they’re not necessarily spending that same amount of money [as interstate tourists would],” Ms Wheeler said.

Intrust Super, the industry fund for the hospitality and tourism industry, encourages all our members to #holidayherethisyear and support our local tourism industry. Visit to start planning your ultimate Aussie holiday today. And please keep an eye on our Instagram page to see the latest deals from our wonderful business clients.