aussie beachI love a statistics-based press release. Grist for the mill. But sometimes they raise more questions than they answer. The latest release from Tourism Australia is a good example. It says research shows that six out of 10 of “high yield Australian travellers” – rate “the country’s iconic beach destinations as better than those in Bali, Fiji and Thailand.” That’s 60%, which TA reckons is a victory. I disagree.

It’s a slim majority and means that 40% of those surveyed – or four out of 10 people – like the international beach destinations better.

TA goes on to say that “when presented with domestic and overseas options, 35% of respondents said they would be more likely to take a beach holiday in Australia, compared to 24% more likely to go overseas”.

The other 41% don’t know where they want to go.

These ambivalent people can be swayed.

By what? Money of course.

TA says “value for money was cited as the most important consideration when choosing a beach holiday”.

And, according to the survey, most Australians believe it is more expensive to holiday at home than overseas – 38% v. 32% with 30% undecided.

So if you follow the logic they are more likely to go overseas, which contradicts the earlier finding, and once again there’s a lot of indecision.

Or a lot of opportunity for marketers both here and abroad.

Therefore you’d have to say the findings are at best inconclusive with so many of the respondents undecided on several key questions.

But Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the survey debunked the “myth that Australians had somehow fallen out of love with the domestic holiday”.

No it doesn’t.

Australians have always liked holidaying at home but the lure of travelling to far-flung exotic destinations is more tempting than ever.

The trend is still heading in that well-publicised direction, especially among younger Australians without children, a majority of whom said they’d rather go international.

Families, though, ranked The Whitsundays highest, which provides a nice launching pad for a statistical comparison of my own.

In the 12 months to the end of September 2012, 541,000 Australians visited the Whitsunday region for pleasure or business.

Pretty good.

However, let’s look at Indonesia (Bali).

For the year to November, 2012, 915,000 Australians visited Indonesia, mostly Bali.

That is a lot more people than actually visited the Whitsundays.

By way of comparison, Thailand for the same period recorded 618,200 Australian visitors, again significantly more than the Whitsundays.

Which to some extent proves that desire and action are two different things.

“I’d like to sail a yacht around the glorious Whitsundays but saw a great package to Bali the other day and will probably go there instead.”

Or something like that.

Let’s move on.

TA says that Broome/Exmouth/Ningaloo ranked highest (for what – they don’t say) among older travellers without children.

The only problem is these people don’t seem to be going to Broome, where tourism is in a mess.

Look no further than this story, dated August 27, 2012, by the respected Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

“The Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is concerned about yet another slow tourist season, with visitor bookings falling by as much as a quarter.

“The peak tourist season loosely covers the drier months in Broome – between April and October.

“Broome Visitor Centre figures on tour and accommodation bookings were down by 25% in May and 15% in July compared with last year.

“Chamber president Tony Proctor says some businesses are running on minimum staff.

” ‘A number of tourism operators have told me that the numbers are down on last year and some of them are expressing them in terms of staffing levels and that they’re running staff at wet season levels,’ ” he said.

” ‘So that’s indicative of a general softness in some sectors of tourism.’ ”

But, hang on, that doesn’t sound like the picture painted in the Tourism Australia beach destination survey.

Why?

I suspect because there is a huge gulf between desire and action.

And on contacting TA was told that:

“Don’t forget this is about appeal. Not a tick list of where you have been.”

Or, as I replied, where you are likely to go.

NB: The “iconic” Australian beach destinations tested again foreign opposition were:

  • Gold Coast (Queensland)
  • Tropical North Queensland
  • Whitsundays (Queensland)
  • Broome / Exmouth / Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia)
  • Fleurieu Peninsula / Kangaroo Island (South Australia)
  • Freycinet Peninsula / Wineglass Bay (Tasmania)

Apparently these were winnowed down (by those doing the survey) from an initial list of 16 from across the country.

Personally I don’t know anyone who has been for a beach holiday in Tasmania or South Australia who actually doesn’t live in that particular state.

Anyway….

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