In 2015–16, overnight domestic trips showed strong growth, increasing 6.8% to 88.9 million trips – equivalent to more than 4.5 trips for each Australian resident aged 15 and over. Nights also increased, but at a somewhat slower rate (up 4.8% to 328 million nights), due to a small decrease in the average length of stay (down to 3.7 nights). Spend continued to increase at a similar rate to trips (up 6.4%) to reach $59.0 billion – the highest spend on record.
Why were they travelling?
Leisure – holiday and those visiting friends and relatives (VFR), combined – continued as the main purpose for overnight domestic trips, accounting for 75% of all trips. Leisure trips increased 6.4% to 66.0 million trips, with spend increasing 5.6% to $41.0 billion.
- HOLIDAY 36.4 million 9.8%
- VFR 30.4 million 3.0%
- BUSINESS 18.6 million 7.9%
- HOLIDAY $28.9 billion 7.8%
- VFR $12.1 billion 1.8%
- BUSINESS $15.5 billion 11.1%
Where did they go?
Overnight domestic travellers increased their trips to all states and territories. The strongest growth in both trips and spend occurred in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.
Domestic overnight travellers spent the most in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, with these states accounting for 73% (or $43.0 billion) of domestic overnight spend as well as 72% of nights (237 million nights). Of these three states, Queensland maintains the highest average length of stay (4.0 nights) and average trip spend ($724 per trip).
Overall, however, average spend was the highest in the Northern Territory ($1,239 per trip) and Tasmania ($811 per trip).
Most domestic travellers’ trips were intrastate, accounting for 69.1% of trips overall. As a result, more tourist spend was generated by intrastate than interstate trips – $31.9 billion compared to $27.1 billion. However, growth in interstate travel exceeded growth in intrastate travel, with trips up 8.0% compared to 6.4%.
What were their travel preferences?
Trips by home state
Domestic travellers from New South Wales (31%) took the most overnight trips, which is consistent with the state’s 32% share of the national population (or 7.7 million people) . This was followed by travellers from Victoria (24%); Queensland (22%); and Western Australia (10.3%).
The average number of trips taken per year was highest for those from the Australian Capital Territory (6.4 per person), likely due to its close proximity to overnight destinations in New South Wales and Victoria and higher average incomes. Northern Territory residents took 5.1 trips per person, likely driven by the relatively high proportion of business trips (35% of all trips). Average trips per year were lowest for South Australia with 4.2 trips per year.
Domestic overnight travellers continued to use self-drive vehicles as their main form of transport (up 6.9% to 64.8 million trips). Air travel also continued to increase (up 5.3% to 21.3 million trips), with growth strongest for residents of Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria (up 23%, 20% and 15.7%, respectively).
Domestic travellers were most likely to stay in the property of a friend or relative, accounting for 40% of trips and 36% of nights. Nights increased most for people staying in their own properties (up 14.8% to 12.0 million nights), and at caravan parks and commercial camping grounds (up 8.9% to 31.8 million nights).
While nights spent in hotels, motels, guest houses and serviced apartments accounted for 26% of total nights (84.1 million nights), this represented the majority of nights spent in commercial accommodation  (57% of commercial accommodation nights).
Outside of social activities, overnight domestic travellers were most likely to engage in outdoor and nature activities (38%) and active outdoor or sports activities (23%).
 ABS, Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. No. 3101.0), June 2016
 Commercial accommodation refers to all paid accommodation. This includes hotels, serviced apartments, resorts, hostels, commercial caravan parks and camping grounds and rented houses and apartments
What tourism activity is forecast for domestic overnight travel?
FIVE YEARS TO 2020-21
The latest tourism forecasts indicate that over the next five years to 2020–21, domestic overnight trips could increase 3.5% per annum to reach 105.7 million trips. Over the same period, nights are expected to increase 3.0% per year to 380.5 million nights, while spend is forecast to increase 4.9% per year to reach $74.9 billion.
Growth in nights is expected to be driven by business trips (up 5.0% per annum to 85.7 million nights) and holiday trips (up 2.7% per annum to 160.3 million nights). Nights in hotels, motels, guest houses and serviced apartments are expected to increase to 99.8 million nights – equivalent to a 26.2% share of the accommodation sector.