Australians not flocking overseas following lifting of border curbs: Survey

A study shows that only 51 per cent of Australians plan to visit foreign destinations. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SYDNEY (XINHUA) - Australians, who have weathered the Covid-19 pandemic, are ambivalent about travelling overseas though the nation has reopened its international borders, according to a survey released on Tuesday (Nov 9).

The University of Queensland study shows that only 51 per cent of Australians plan to visit foreign destinations. About a third of those surveyed said they would prefer to travel domestically, while 16 per cent said they would not be travelling at all.

Associate Professor Gabby Walters from the university's business school said the lukewarm responses differed to a survey that had been conducted in April last year, shortly after Australia banned international flights.

"I was surprised by the findings but, then again, I could understand the reasons for them," she told Xinhua.

"On the one hand, people may be champing at the bit to travel again, but there are still a lot of indecision and quick policy changes, so there remains a fair deal of uncertainty."

She added: "Previously, people felt uncertain and uneasy about the virus and this makes sense because in April last year, no one knew what was to come."

Prof Walters said that this time round, people were reporting more feelings of "restriction and frustration" as well as being "slightly more scared and anxious" than the earlier survey.

The survey also found that New Zealand and Europe are the most popular destinations for international flyers, while Australia's coastal areas are the most favoured tourist spots for 44 per cent of domestic travellers.

"Queensland is still perceived as being the safest place to holiday, closely followed by Western Australia and Tasmania," Prof Walters said.

"Queensland has low case numbers, great coastal locations and sunshine, while New South Wales and Victoria have been front and centre of negative Covid-19 publicity."

She said Australians were placing "more emphasis on vaccination status, Covid-19 numbers and hygiene standards when planning travel".

In a separate study, Prof Walters and colleagues Associate Professor Sarah Kelly, Dr Thomas Magor and Dr Ann Wallin also investigated the behaviour and preferences of travellers considering cruise holidays.

International cruise ships have been banned from entering Australia since March last year, following an outbreak on the liner Ruby Princess which led to more than 600 infections and 28 deaths.

"Travellers are seeking smaller ships and lower occupancy as well as better health and medical facilities on board," Prof Walters said.

"We have also seen a market shift - older generations are less likely to cruise now when previously they were a major market for cruise ships."

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