The Age of regions

why regional Australia offers so much opportunity for new tourism investors. 

The regional exodus is not over in Australia. Cost of living pressures, unafforable housing in cities, more people seek to work on the road and the hangover from COVID still lingers impacting supply chains and the cheap airfares Aussies have come to expect.  People who travelled in regions extensively during border closures are now more aware of what regions have to offer, and perhaps, some of the downsides too. As airline capacity is still yet to build and prices drop, regions are still the 'sweetheart' of the Australian domestic tourism industry.

So why regions, anyway? In my line of work, I focus on regional tourism as economic development with many clients, councils and communities. Thier business success is linked to the regions' success, normally. The more remote you go, the less this is true, as businesses start to become the destination, the place to stay, refuel and get a bite to eat. Think roadhouses on Highway 1.

But even before COVID sent us packing into our great Aussie backyards and back roads, regions have always been where many of our great cultural and natural stories are, where our archaeology and geology is still intact in vast tracts of land, where Indigenous hetitage lies alongside our critters and flora, our mountains and forests and coastlines, islands, lakes and rivers. These in turn give us our food and wine scene, agricultural innovation and people. This is what people come to Australia for. 

Just to get a taste of it, people travel far and wide to experience a little piece of an authentic Australia. It’s valuable and we should talk about it, fight for it and be proud of it. Our national brand is not in our cities, it’s in how the regions and the country are perceived, for better or worse. Regions are where a lot of Australia's nature-based experiences are and Tourism Australia’s research consistently shows this is what visitors to Australia, and within Australia want to experience.

This is only increasing as awareness of environmental issues and climate change impacts are felt world wide - people are valuing nature more highly as we slowly acknowledge it’s too rapidly changing nature due to man-made impacts and emissions. People also want to visit places with solutions to these problems. And Australia paradoxically, while a big global emitter, also holds the key to these solutions. Herein lies a great opportunity for agritourism currently growing rapidly in place like Queensland where the state government and the Australian Regional Tourism Network are investing heavily in land based tourism experiences where visitors can learn about solutions to problems, agri-innovation, regenerative farming, and the future of food and energy production beyond the city gates.

While regions are promoted for their nature and beauty, the reality is only a tiny percentage of international visitors ever leave the east coast. Tourism Research Australia’s research consistently show that most international visitors to Australia rarely travel into regions, they stick close to the city they fly into and if they do leave it's an hour or so from cities, mostly Sydney and Melbourne, or to places with a direct air connection. 

The challenge is drawing international visitors out to experience different kinds of Australia beyond the cities. 

So, there is a huge untapped opportunity for regions to showcase their strengths and experiences to draw visitors out of cities, as COVID showed us when Aussies fled cities (maybe not Adelaide and Perth) and are still making the move to start new regional lifestyles, across the nation. 

Buy your copy of Booked Out! How to Start and Grow a Successful Regional Tourism Business here.

Contact us, call Susan Lee

0466 090 600