Tourism National Visitor Survey: Australian domestic hotel stay numbers flat as traveller hit the couch

Why stay in a hotel when you can crash on the couch of your friends or relatives?

Australians are increasingly staying at the homes of friends and relatives rather than in hotels when they travel domestically.

Demand for such trips helped to propel domestic travel spending 4 per cent higher to a record $53.7 billion in the 12 months to September 30, according to Tourism Research Australia's latest National Visitor Survey.

The number of nights spent at a friend or relative's house rose by 9 per cent while there was no growth in nights spent at paid accommodation such as hotels, motels, guest houses and serviced apartments. The number of pure holiday trips fell by 1 per cent, with a 3 per cent fall in the number of nights spent.

By contrast, the number of Australians taking overseas holidays rose by 6 per cent to 5.5 million.

Domestically, the continued growth in visiting friends and relatives has led to a large jump in the number of Australians visiting markets, attending festivals and cultural events and visiting pubs and clubs during domestic holidays.

"[Staying with a friend or relative] will allow them to save money to use on other tourism goods and services," Tourism Research Australia research manager Tim Quinn said. "They spend more money on pubs and clubs and restaurants and take that friend and relative out as a gift. That is particularly [common for] an older cohort."

Among younger travellers, the idea of an overseas holiday remains attractive.

Mr Quinn said the rising number of flights by low-cost airlines to medium-haul destinations like Asia meant those trips would remain appealing to the youth market even though the value of the Aussie dollar has fallen.

Scoot on Tuesday said it would launch flights from Melbourne to Singapore from next November and Indonesia AirAsia X is starting flights from Melbourne to Bali later this month.

But Mr Quinn said the fall in thelocal currency to around 83 US cents was expected to drive growth in domestic and international tourism and could help Australia meet its Tourism 2020 target of $115 billion to $140 billion of domestic overnight spending by the end of the decade.

At present, the spending has reached $84.4 billion.

"I think Australians are going to second-think what value is overseas," Mr Quinn said. "[Plus] there is a greater translation rate for international travellers. We won't be losing due to the currency translation."

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