THE strength of the Australian dollar compared to other currencies is boosting Australians’ ability and desire to travel further, according to the findings from the latest MasterCard survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities - Travel.
The annual research, which was conducted from March to April 2011 and involved 647 Australians, highlights the continued strength of the Australian dollar in influencing consumers’ decision to travel overseas.
The findings reveal the continuing extent of the currency influence; with one in four (25%) respondents stating that they would not have made plans to travel overseas this year if the exchange rate was not as favourable.
MasterCard Australia Country Manager, Andrew Cartwright said: “The tourism industry in Australia has had a difficult start to 2011 – with the natural disasters in the first three months of the year and the knock-on implications on holiday numbers in the hardest hit areas.
“These occurrences, alongside the strength of the dollar, have meant that many Australian travellers are looking overseas for their holiday destinations – a trend which is impacting heavily on the domestic tourism sector as highlighted in the findings of the Tourism and Transport Forum/MasterCard survey (Quarter 2, TTF – MasterCard Tourism Sentiment Survey), issued last month.”
The strong Australian dollar could also be impacting Australians’ travel plans over the next 12 months – with almost a third (32%) intent on travelling more frequently for leisure purposes in 2012.
The favourable exchange rate between the Australian and American dollars has made the USA the most popular destination for Australian tourists, with close to one in four (22%) intent on holidaying in the States during the year.
With the Australian dollar continuing to increase in value against the Euro and British Pound in particular, holidaymakers have identified several European countries as destination hotspots.
The United Kingdom tops the European destination list with close to one in five (18%) Australians planning to travel to the UK this year closely followed by France (12%), with Germany and Italy both on 10%.
New Zealandremains a prime location for holidaymakers due to its close proximity to Australia and relatively short flight time – nearly one in five (19%) intend to travel to the country at some point during the year.
The research also highlights that the majority of Australians save for their holidays throughout the course of the year (67%), but one in six (16%) plan holidays when they need them and pay with either a credit card or loan.
Whilst on holiday Australian’s are also mindful of their finances – with 21% opting to stay with friends and family and 16% staying in budget accommodation – only one in ten (11%) stay in luxury or five-star hotels.
When it comes to booking accommodation or transport for holidays, Australians recognise the benefit of booking with credit and debit cards – 58% book accommodation and 53% book airline travel with their credit cards.
Australia- Popular with International Travellers
Whilst the research indicates Australians’ plan to travel abroad this year, it is not all doom and gloom for the domestic tourism industry, which will be boosted by the expected arrival of international tourists who plan to spend $13.8 billion in Sydney and $7.5 billion in Melbourne during 2011 (Research from MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities, released in June 2011).
Andrew Cartwright adds: “It is clear that many Australians intend to take advantage of the favourable exchange rate and head to Europe or the USA this year. What is encouraging is that despite the exchange rate making a visit to Australia more expensive, international tourists are still intent on travelling here, which will be a real boost for our domestic tourism sector at a time when it is really needed.”
For the full report go to Master Intelligence.