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New report finds Australians are spending more to ‘seize the day’ despite cost of living pinch


Popular holiday destinations, such as Cairns, the Gold Coast and the Whitsundays, suffer dip in experience bookings as cost of living keeps people closer to home. Glamping falls out of favour as Aussies rush to book off-grid retreats and cabins instead.

Australia – A new report examining the state of the nation’s tourism and experience industry has revealed that Australians are embracing a ‘seize the day’ mentality despite cost of living pressures, with bookings for ‘bucket list’ experiences growing by 22% year-on-year.

The inaugural ‘Seasonal Experiences Index: Autumn/Winter 2023’ report from Big Red Group, Australia and New Zealand’s experience marketplace, indicates that Australians are spending greater amounts, but less often, in an attempt to secure more value-driven experiences.

Jet fighter flights, hot air balloon rides, mystery flight packages and glacier heli-hikes have experienced the highest growth compared to 2022 bookings, highlighting that revenge travel – where people travel to make up for lost time during the pandemic – remains prevalent as Aussies lean into escapism.

Key highlights from the report are outlined below

Cost of living impact across the nation

While experience bookings and average order value across Experience Oz, RedBalloon and Adrenaline are up by 66% and 33% on average against pre-pandemic levels, the increasing cost of living has impacted the tourism and experience industry in different ways across the nation.

Autumn 2023 booking data points to a sharp rise in bookings and activity in areas outside of city centres, with popular spots including North Sydney and Hornsby (+400%) Baulkham Hills and the Hawkesbury (+75%) and Brisbane’s Eastern (+38%), Western (+113%) and Northern (+66%) suburbs.

Meanwhile, popular holiday destinations such as Cairns (-8%), the Gold Coast (-9%) and the Whitsundays (-29%) have actually seen a downturn in bookings and visitors – suggesting that household budget pressures are keeping people in-state and closer to home.

The adventure & accommodation hotlist

Staying closer to home isn’t preventing Australians from seeking out new adventures. The fastest growing categories for Autumn 2023 included adventure sports (+1786%), skiing and snowsports (+658%), driving experiences (+355%) and escape rooms (+128%), whilst theme parks reigned supreme as the season’s best selling category overall, achieving 18% of all sales.

It’s not just adventure that Aussies have got a taste for. The Index has revealed that food tasting has become one of the nation’s favourite pastimes this Autumn/Winter season, with foodies rushing to book farm and market tours to satisfy their appetites. One tour in particular, an in-water Dining and Oyster Farm Tour, saw an incredible 15,736% uptake in bookings year-on-year.

While high-octane and more unique experiences are high in demand for Aussies, it appears that the nation’s preferred choice of accommodation sits on the more relaxed and serene side. Off-grid retreats and cabins are proving incredibly popular this season, and have posted such significant growth that they’re now outselling a former fan-favourite, glamping, by over 56%.

Leading trends this winter

With demand for travel and adventure remaining high, and consumer spending habits continuing to surprise, the Index indicates the winter season will be a busy time for tourism operators. There are a number of leading trends this season, including a substantial rise in bookings for whale watching as Southern Hemisphere Humpbacks migrate north (+7%), Vivid-themed experiences doubling in revenue (+101%) year-on-year following a record-breaking turnout at the Sydney festival, and a surprising number of forward bookings for experiences in the Northern Territory, such as the NitNit Dreaming Two Gorge Boat Tour (+7431%), as Aussies seek out warmer weather.

Commenting on the report, David Anderson, CEO & Co-Founder at Big Red Group, said: “We’ve launched this report to provide a bi-annual temperature check on the industry and provide support to those operating within it. Our first Seasonal Experiences Index tackles the cost of living crisis head-on, and gives suppliers a chance to shine a light on areas that are performing well right now, whilst acknowledging what’s been having a tougher time of it too.

“By examining how the financial pressures currently faced by Australians and our international visitors are having an impact on the way they travel and experience new things, we’ve learned that Aussies are still seeking out adventure. They’re just going about it slightly differently at the moment.

“There’s no doubt that it’s been a challenging few years for Australia’s tourism and experience industry, but data suggests that consumer confidence and demand is growing – and while there are bound to be further challenges ahead, there’s cause for the industry to be optimistic for the remainder of 2023.”

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Tatiana is the news co-ordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes to monitor the hundrends of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skim the most important according to our strategy. She holds a Bachelor degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.