Tourism Tasmania COVID-19 Insights

A snapshot of what we’re learning about consumer behaviour in response to COVID-19

11 May 2020

Amongst the turmoil and disruption of the past months – locally and globally – there has emerged an unprecedented volume of information about nearly everything. The World Health Organisation has even given it a name – the Infodemic. Navigating the Infodemic has been a challenge for individuals, businesses and governments making day-to-day decisions as new insights emerge.

At Tourism Tasmania we’ve been working to make sense of it all to help support the tourism industry with the most up-to-date, relevant information we have to hand so you can start to plan for what your individual rebuild may look like, guided by the advice of public health authorities and based on the best insights possible.

The Tourism Tasmania Research and Insights team has been cataloguing the huge amounts of information in the marketplace to work out what the key messages are that will help us make good decisions.

We’ve pulled together the top insights that we can share with you right now.  We’ll continue to share new insights with you as we continue to learn more.

But before we share those insights, it’s important to let you know that…

…some of the information we’re seeing simply confirms things we already know – we’re staying home more, spend on travel is down, people are flying less, the economy is declining. Although none of us need those insights to make decisions or plan for the future right now, what the information is doing is tracking the decline and finding our baseline. Why would we want to do that? Mostly because this is not going to last forever. It helps to know when, where and how things start to change – where we need to be responsive in our efforts and where we should be planning for upcoming change.

  1. The importance of monitoring consumer confidence

    From the perspective of our potential visitors, the absolute low point of this crisis so far came in the first week of April, where consumer confidence hit the lowest ever recorded. It is now slowly recovering, up to 89.0 from 65.3 which shows that although there is financial pain in Australia, people are already gaining in confidence as they think about life post-pandemic. We’re trying to assess the impact the crisis is having on the size of our market, to make sure we have enough people who both want to come to Tasmania and have the means to do so. Consumer confidence is a big part of this equation – if people are feeling optimistic about their financial future, they will be more inclined to allow themselves to dream of, and ultimately book, a holiday when travel restrictions are lifted.

  2. Feeling safe is always most important

    There are some important preconditions for people before they move beyond their homes at all. Feeling comfortable with their finances is an underpinning factor, but research has always shown that more than anything else, people need to feel safe before they travel, even if it is for the most pressing needs. In the current climate, this is more important than ever.

  3. Our intrastate market will be looking to re-engage with regions they haven’t visited for a while

    There will be a difference between travelling, and holidaying. Once people feel safe, we are expecting that the local intrastate market will be the first to move for most states, and that this will be underpinned by people heading back out to their shacks and visiting friends and family. On the whole, the tourism industry won’t have much influence on driving that movement, as people will be motivated by things other than pure holiday, like re-connecting and enjoying familiar surrounds. What we can do with this first flush of movement however is capitalise on the opportunities it presents, with people looking to re-engage with regions they haven’t visited for a while, using the supermarkets, petrol stations, cafes, and possibly seeking to re-engage with vineyards and other favourite ‘drop in’ places near where they are headed. Research is showing that re-connecting with people and eating out are high on people’s list as they emerge from lockdown.

  4. The ‘staycation’ in Tasmania

Holiday travel is where operators can extract the most value from the Tasmanian and, later, the interstate market. It is also where we can really work at influencing decisions on whether to travel or stay at home. We want Tasmanians to choose a ‘staycation’ instead of the interstate or international travel they had planned this year. For some Tasmanian travellers, this may be the excuse they needed to sample what is at their back door. Research shows that the travel market can be activated by promotion, and although it is not best practice to discount in these times if you can help it, the offer of extra value could well motivate the local consumers. Maybe flesh out what value actually means beyond just discounting?  What’s something special you can offer?

We hope to share more of these insights with you over the coming weeks so stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated when a new edition is available via Tourism Talk.

Dr Allison Anderson
Manager, Research and Insights, Tourism Tasmania