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Gourmet Tasmania or beachy Queensland? Our most popular holiday activities by state

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2015-September 2016, n=7,797. Base: Australians 14+ whose last trip was domestic. NB: trip=any holiday, visit to friends or relatives or any other non-business trip, where respondent stayed away from home for at least one night

What did you do on your last domestic holiday? According to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research, more people went bush-walking than visited museums on their last Australian getaway, and shopping was a more popular holiday activity than swimming/surfing. We explore what Aussies do when holidaying on home shores and how this varies between different states.

As of September 2016, 10.7 million Australians reported that their last holiday was domestic. Almost half overall (49.4%) visited friends and/or relatives during their trip, although this rose to 52.6% of people whose last holiday was in New South Wales, and fell to 42.9% of those who visited Tasmania.

Wining and dining was the second-most popular domestic-holiday activity (23.4%), with some interesting differences depending on the destination. This time, Tasmania heads the list, with 39.1% of holiday-goers dining at restaurants, having a vino or two, and no doubt enjoying the fresh local produce the Apple Isle is renowned for. Surprisingly, only one in five people whose last holiday was in NSW did the same.

Top 10 domestic holiday activities, and how popularity varies by state


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2015-September 2016, n=7,797. Base: Australians 14+ whose last trip was domestic. NB: trip=any holiday, visit to friends or relatives or any other non-business trip, where respondent stayed away from home for at least one night

Some 23.2% of domestic holiday-goers went shopping (not surprisingly, Victoria is above average for this particular activity, with 27.1% of folks who went there on their last trip hitting the shops), and 18.1% took in some country scenery and/or went wildlife spotting (a percentage that shoots up to 33.2% of visitors to Tasmania, and falls to 16.7% of those who went to NSW).

Given Australia’s plethora of world-famous coastal destinations, it’s curious that only 17.7% of domestic holiday-goers overall went swimming and/or surfing on their last trip. However, this figure does rise among people whose last holiday was in Queensland— 25.6% of whom went swimming/surfing, compared with just 10.9% of those who visited Victoria.

Tasmania is the top spot for culture: 31.6% of people who took their last holiday there went to a museum (compared with 11.2% of all domestic holiday-goers) and 22.7% went to an art gallery (compared with 7.8%). Of course, popular Hobart tourist attraction MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art – can be classified as either a museum or gallery, so it’s likely that this is driving these high figures.  Given that MONA opened in 2011, it is worth pointing out that visitors to Tassie were much less likely to go to a museum (12.2%) or art gallery (8.1%) in 2010 than they are now.  

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Nearly 11 million of us took a short or long break somewhere in Australia between October 2015 and September 2016, generating endless opportunities for tourism operators, destination marketers and local businesses. Although visiting family and friends is the most popular activity among domestic holiday-goers, wining and dining, shopping, taking in the scenery/countryside/wildlife and swimming/surfing are also high on the agenda.

“But as the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research confirm, holiday activities can vary dramatically depending on the destination. As we have seen, visitors to Tasmania are more likely than those who went to other destinations to go to museums and eat out during their trip. The Northern Territory, on the other hand, attracts the country’s highest proportions of bushwalkers, National Park visitors and people going to historical places.

“While none of the above is especially surprising, some findings were less expected. For example, despite being home to the Dandenong Ranges, Wilson’s Promontory and the Grampians (to name just a few), Victoria is the least popular state for bushwalking and National Parks. WA and Queensland come in last for shopping and museums respectively, while visitors to NSW don’t wine and dine as much as might be expected. This all suggests there are still opportunities for tourism bodies to be promoting the full range of their states’ attractions.

 “Assisted by the deep data contained in Roy Morgan’s Holiday Tracking Survey, tourism operators can better understand the diverse factors influencing Australians’ travel habits: our demographics and preferred holiday activities, how we perceive specific destinations and who we tend to travel with, plus so much more. These kinds of insights allow for more targeted marketing, designed to capture the imagination of those holiday-goers who might just be receptive to the right kind of persuasion…”

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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%