With international borders closed for the foreseeable future, 52% of Australians are planning to travel domestically this year, but the majority want stricter hygiene measures on flights and would cancel travel to COVID-19 hotspots – Toluna research reveals.

COVID-19 still a concern

While a strong number of planned domestic holidays might offer a glimmer of hope for Australia’s tourism industry, travellers are prepared to cancel their plans at the first sign of a health risk. In a recent Toluna study of 1025 Australians, the majority (70%) would cancel their travel plans if a 2nd wave of COVID-19 hit Australia, and 56% would cancel travel to a destination reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases. Quarantine is also off-putting for travellers, with 56% stating they’d cancel plans if their destination imposed a 14-day quarantine, and 44% would cancel if they had to quarantine upon returning to their own state.

Although current guidelines suggest in-flight face masks should be optional, the majority of respondents (65%) believe face masks should be mandatory on flights. They also believe there should be mandatory temperature checks before boarding (73%), spaced seating (68%) and hand sanitiser available for all passengers (82%). 

A large number of respondents (63%) also believe any passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms should be prevented from travelling until they return a negative test, while 13% said they should be allowed to travel, but only if wearing a face mask and isolated from other passengers.

For those not travelling this year, nearly three quarters (72%) stated they don’t think it’s safe to travel domestically just yet, while 54% are staying put due to financial insecurity.

Key travel motivators and top destinations

For respondents planning to travel within Australia this year, the key motivator for most (79%) was to support local tourism, while 59% plan to take advantage of anticipated travel deals. Half (50%) of the respondents surveyed had had their international travel plans cancelled due to COVID-19, so they decided to holiday within Australia instead. 

Queensland was listed as the top travel destination, with 40% of respondents looking to visit the sunshine state this year, followed by 39% hoping to travel to, or within, NSW. Despite the research being conducted as Victoria’s COVID-19 numbers were rising, 31% of respondents said they planned to travel to Victoria at some point this year.

In terms of timing, the majority of respondents don’t plan to travel until the end of the year; 19% in October, 19% in December and 27% in December. Only 7% of those surveyed have travel plans for July, suggesting a large number of families will be staying put for the school holidays.

International travel

With talk of a proposed trans-Tasman bubble, 27% of respondents would book a trip to New Zealand in the next 6-12 months, and another 38% would consider it, should the borders between the two countries be opened. 

When it comes to global travel plans, 33% would only travel internationally after a COVID-19 vaccine was made available. 

Toluna Analysis

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Australia’s tourism industry hard, with many tourism operators, hotels and key destinations left wondering what the next 12 months might look like. Our research shows a strong appetite for domestic travel, which will hopefully help to sustain the tourism industry as well as supporting local related businesses such as restaurants and bars, while international borders remain closed,” said Stephen Walker, Business Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand. 

“Our research also shows that COVID-19 remains a very real concern for Australians, and travellers expect strict hygiene protocols to be adhered to. We would encourage airline carriers, hotels, and any businesses in the travel industry to really drive home that safety messaging and to ensure guests you are doing everything you can to keep them safe and follow Government health guidelines.”