TWO sets of government figures today reveal the befuddling contradiction that is Australian domestic tourism. On the one hand, more people are flying in Australia than ever before, with a record 55m passengers carried on more than 600,000 flights in the year to June 2011. Total domestic passenger numbers increased by 3m, up 5.8% over the previous year. But on the other hand the trips are shorter than ever before, thereby negating the impact of increased air travel.
The latest Tourism Research Australia statistics show in the year to June 2011 that the number of overnight trips taken by Australians was 68.9m, 4% higher than the previous 12 months. Yet despite this finding, supported by the aviation figures above, the amount of time Australians spent away from home remained static at 260m nights. In other words, their trips were shorter. Spending also remained flat with an increase of 1% to $43bn despite encouraging signs in the last quarter. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.