San Francisco Travel is the official destination marketing organization for the City by the Bay. We take a global approach to the work we do. Our Global Tourism Development team travels the world, meeting with the travel trade to encourage visitation to San Francisco.
They're experts on what travelers are looking for, and they're happy to share their insights with partners like you. Our own Antonette Eckert, Sr. Director of Global Tourism Development for Asia/Pacific, has put together this handy guide for what you need to know about one of our biggest international markets, Australia.
An Overview of the Australian Market
In 2017, San Francisco welcomed 191,670 Aussies, who spent a collective $421.5 million, ranking sixth in overseas visitor volume and fifth in overall spend for the city. Those numbers are expected to rise.
Australia’s economy has seen consistent growth year-over-year for the last quarter century, with robust consumer confidence and a stable currency. Factors fueling demand include a strong desire to travel to the U.S., increased air capacity and competitive airfares.
There are currently 12 weekly direct flights from Sydney to SFO on Qantas and United. In September 2018, Qantas launched a new direct service from Melbourne to SFO four times a week. Our closest competitor, LAX, has 62 weekly flights direct from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. As competition for share of market intensifies, Australian consumers are experiencing unprecedented access to cheap flights to the U.S.
The U.S. is holding steady as the number one long-haul international destination for Australia, with an incredible return rate of 72%. Given the amount of repeat travel, it’s no surprise that Australians are looking beyond the typical icons and searching for unique experiences away from the regular crowds.
Travel agencies retain a strong presence in Australia, with the major players, Flight Centre Travel Group and Helloworld, consuming the majority of the market. OTAs (online travel agencies) are growing in popularity. However, the booking process is somewhat fragmented, with consumers conducting research online and booking some or all of their travel through an agent. Approximately 70% of long-haul travelers utilize a travel agent at some point during the booking cycle.
The Australian media landscape has started to shift. Digital platform readership recently surpassed traditional media readership for the first time. However, print, radio, and television remain a huge part of their media consumption habits and continue to play a vital role when informing and inspiring travel decisions.
Fast Facts About Australian Visitors
Here are some more things you should know about our friends from the land down under:
Australians typically have, on average, at least 4 weeks of vacation each year.
The average length of stay for an Australian visitor in the U.S. is 22 nights. This is the highest average of all overseas visitors. Within that time, the typical Australian tourist spends an average of 8.5 nights in California.
More than 80% of Aussies travel to the U.S. for leisure.
Although Australians travel throughout the year, the most popular months for travel are between April and October and December and January. Their planning timeframe can last up to six months, and their booking timeframe is typically between two and four mouths.
Additional sources: Brand USA, US Travel, Visit California