New research from Tourism Research Australia has revealed how international visitor priorities have evolved since the pandemic.

The 2023 State of the Industry Report shows growing interest among international visitors in experiences such as playing golf, whale or dolphin watching, playing a sport, visiting a distillery and bushwalking.

On the other hand, activities that saw lower participation rates in 2023 included visiting a casino, attending movies at the cinema, attending festivals, fairs or cultural events, visiting heritage buildings, sites or monuments and going on guided tours or excursions.

Increase in First Nations activities

An estimated one in seven international visitors engaged in First Nations activities in 2023.

This was higher than the average of one in nine international visitors over the period from 2013-2019, and significantly higher than the one in 91 domestic visitors that engaged in First Nations activities in 2023.

There were nearly one million international trips in 2023 that incorporated a First Nations activity. This was an increase on the number of trips that incorporated a First Nations activity in 2019.

Sporting events drive visitor economy growth

Sporting events are playing an increasingly important role in attracting visitors to Australia, with one in 15 international trips being influenced by an organised sporting event, compared to one in 19 in 2019.

A spike in visitation occurred in the September quarter, with TRA suggesting the FIFA Women’s World Cup was likely a driving influence in this result.

Sydney, for example, hosted 603,957 footballing fans at the 11 FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ games played in the NSW – one third of the 1.9 million fans who attended matches during the tournament.

According to financial infrastructure platform Airwallex, the tournament resulted in a $2.98 billion rise in travel and retail spending in NSW directly linked to the event.

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Tourism Research Australia State of the Industry Report 2023