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City-dwellers travelling to interstate capitals over destinations just out of town

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=15,867). Base: Australians 14+

You might think that urbanites would want to escape the big smoke on holidays, but for many capital city residents, getting out of town often just means going to a different town, the latest Australian travel data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

Most of the top holiday destination for urbanites are regions nearby—places where you can leave after work (or perhaps an hour or two early!) on a Friday and drive back Sunday afternoon. However, even city-dwellers sometimes want to enjoy another (bigger, different) city on holidays: Sydney and Melbourne, in fact, are each among the top five domestic travel destinations for all capital city residents around the country—and in some cases are actually more popular than areas only a short drive away.   

Over the past year, more Sydneysiders took a trip to Melbourne than visited the Hunter Valley, South Coast or Central Coast. Only the North Coast hosted more holidaying Sydneysiders, taking the number one slot. Conversely, Melburnians were more likely to head to Sydney than Gippsland and Wilsons Prom or Phillip Island, as well as other Victorian destinations just outside the top five including the Goldfields, High Country, and Upper Murray regions.

The top two spots for sojourning Brisbanites are either a little north (Sunshine Coast) or a little south (Gold Coast), however out-of-state destinations make up the rest of the top five: Sydney, the Far North Coast of NSW, and Melbourne.

Melbourne was the top destination for people taking a trip out of Adelaide or Hobart—ahead of anywhere in the home state. Yet another city, Brisbane, is the fifth most-visited domestic holiday destination from Hobart. Being further away, it makes sense that Perth’s top three destinations are all local—but Melbourne and Sydney again round out the top five, ahead of other popular Western Australia holiday spots including Geraldton, Ningaloo and Exmouth.

Most visited domestic holiday destinations by capital city residents

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=15,867). Base: Australians 14+

Overall, Melbourne is once again the top domestic destination, with 1 in 10 Australians 14+ visiting in the past year, ahead of Sydney (8.4%), the Gold Coast (6.5%) and Brisbane (5.3%).

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Near every capital city are a variety of holiday destinations that residents can easily get to by a short drive. These areas benefit from the incoming tourism dollars of nearby urbanites, but are often in direct competition with equivalent local options: Sydneysiders needing a quick break choose between the NSW North, South and Central Coasts; Melburnians can head down the Great Ocean Road or Mornington Peninsula; Brisbanites can head either north or south to reach the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast.

“The regions surrounding the major metro areas need to understand what city-dwellers want in a destination and how they decide where to go. Perhaps the challenge for regions near Adelaide and Hobart however may be that their target ‘city’ residents are often actually looking for more of a full city experience, not less, on their breaks.  

“It’s clear Australia is a nation of metropolitans. Most of us live in cities, and they are also the most-visited destinations. Melbourne has now been the nation’s most popular domestic holiday destination for nine consecutive years. Over 1.9 million Australians stayed at least one night in Melbourne during the past year.”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%