June 1, 2021

Celebrating cities: Boosting domestic travel during COVID-19 for Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia is the federal government agency responsible for attracting international travellers to the country. But what do you do during a pandemic when borders are closed? You showcase the country’s wealth of experiences to Australians.

“During COVID-19, Travel Insight is one of the tools we’ve used which allows us to successfully pivot our focus to the Australian domestic market.”
Seamus May, Strategic Analyst, Tourism Australia 

The situation 

In mid-2020, with the pandemic disrupting travel, the Tourism Australia team wanted to improve their forecasting ability and gain a richer understanding of consumer demand with more real-time data on domestic flight bookings. 

In today's fast-moving landscape, traditional sources that show historical, backward-looking data are no longer fit for purpose. Travel demand has changed, the ways people search for travel has changed and the trips they’re taking have changed too – meaning destinations look vastly different in 2021. 

Tourism Australia chose Travel Insight in October 2020 to get better visibility on where Australians were planning and booking their travel domestically. The aim was to help the team with market prioritisation and drive the fastest possible recovery for the Australian tourism industry.

Escape to the city 

With international travel impossible, Tourism Australia switched its targeting to the only people who could explore Australia: Australians. City Escapes was one campaign which sought to drive visitors back into the country’s cities, which had been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19.


Ferries transporting passengers around the beautiful waterway of Sydney Harbour. 

Travel Insight data helped inform the strategy for this domestic campaign, which focused on encouraging Australians back into their big urban areas and shining a spotlight on their world-class dining, entertainment, retail and culture. 

Our data was an effective tool in ensuring the campaign reached the right people, while revealing where demand was lower, making it easier to know where to target.

A new level of insight 

Our raw data gave Tourism Australia the scope, depth and granularity it hadn't had before: forward-looking, delivered daily, showing every search and redirect from consumers across Australia. 

Flight search data is one of the primary signals for judging travel recovery and it’s helping Tourism Australia to understand: 

  • Where domestic demand is originating and going to
  • Domestic traveller search patterns in much more detail
  • Domestic search demand benchmarking against 2019

With a small team processing the data and using Power BI to build custom reports every week, Tourism Australia uses our search data for strategic and marketing decision-making. 

Travel Insight is complemented with other sources like Tourism Research Australia and forward-looking industry booking data. With the addition of sentiment and consumer confidence data and accommodation performance data, Tourism Australia can form a complete picture of what’s changing over time and what the future looks like.

The impact 

It’s still early days – Australia’s only had frictionless internal movement since January 2021 and New Zealand is currently the only international market for travel.

But with Travel Insight, the team can track how these border changes impact different routes and markets, using our demand data to forecast visitor numbers.

“As travel emerges from a really tough period, Skyscanner’s data will help us benchmark searches, along with bookings and visitor numbers, against previous years so we know exactly how we’re performing.”
Seamus May, Strategic Analyst, Tourism Australia

The City Escapes campaign is shaping up to be hugely successful, with a clear spike in travel following its roll out. Tourism Australia is excited to unleash Travel Insight when international borders re-open more broadly and see endless opportunities in our data – especially during the recovery period. Tourism Australia will also utilise our 2019 datasets so it can compare against them and track visitor numbers.