Consumer Trends and Industry Insights

In the years since COVID, the tourism industry has felt the brunt of the enormous global disruptions, both physically and psychologically.  The rulebook was thrown out in 2020 as the world went into lockdowns, and with state and national borders now open, and people able to travel to almost anywhere in the world, we once again face a massive shift in our industry and the shape of global tourism.

Bundaberg Tourism, as the Region Tourism Organisation (RTO), invests heavily in supporting the development of the tourism industry in the region as we strive to continue driving visitation to the Bundaberg region.  Tourism plays a vital role in the region’s development, generating economic growth and employment opportunities whilst also encouraging investment into infrastructure, benefiting both visitors and the community.  The visitor economy in Bundaberg inject hundreds of million dollars into the local economy, and these positive impacts across a variety of sectors are only going to continue as the region grows in its reputation as an exciting leisure destination.

We have been working alongside our state and national counterparts to identify key trends and opportunities in tourism that we expect to see over the coming years.


While international travel is available again, most Australians are planning on taking their holidays domestically.  The great Aussie road trip continues to shine, with couples and young families joining the grey nomads on the road.  Supporting local remains a high priority, as are experiences that are as real and attainable as they are inspiring as we rediscover the riches of a simpler life.

International travellers are expected to make a slow return to Australia, with COVID safety, flight challenges, availability of experiences and accommodation, and visa processing times just a few of the challenges dampening a faster re-entry.  Early adopters and bucket list travellers will be leading the arrivals.  Bundaberg’s core pre-COVID international markets are keen to return in the coming years, especially travelers from the UK, Germany, France, and we are seeing interest from new markets, including Singapore, India and South East Asia. 


As the hustle was stripped away during lockdowns, there is a greater emphasis on travel that is good for self, good for the community, and good for the world.  Even no-impact travel is waning in favour of travel that positively impacts a destination – whether working on a regenerative project, monitoring reef health, or donating to the conservation of an endangered species, travel will become slower, more immersive and more meaningful for everyone involved.

Bundaberg Tourism CEO, Katherine Reid, has long been a champion for sustainable tourism on the Southern Great Barrier Reef (SGBR) including leading the current QLD Tourism Climate Action Project, bringing Queensland’s 13 RTOs together to achieve a network-wide strategic funding from the Queensland government, developing tools for the tourism industry towards Net Zero targets. She knows firsthand that this trend is being driven by the tourism industry even more than by consumers.  “Sustainable travel is now considered a corporate responsibility of buyers – our travel trade partners are seeking out eco and responsible travel options as a priority, which will make it easy for consumers to engage in the sustainability journey.”

Tourism operators and local businesses who are interested in learning more about sustainable practices in their businesses and the region’s work to achieve ECO Destination Certification should visit BT’s Regional Sustainability page or  Council’s Sustainable Business Resource Hub


While the larger destination of Queensland and Australia remain popular, there is a strong swing towards experiences that are new and undiscovered.  Bundaberg and the Southern Great Barrier Reef (SGBR) continues to gain real traction in the domestic and international travel market, but is still considered “new product”, which is exciting travelers and travel trade who are seeking bespoke experiences and itineraries that no-one else offers. 

Bundaberg Tourism’s Trade & Industry Development Executive, Loni Hammond, has played a leading part in the SGBR’s growth across her years as both an operator and now working for BT.  “Bundaberg Tourism have been working hard to develop new itineraries and opportunities for regional operators,” said Loni.  “In the past 12 months, the region has been showcased at major trade events and undertook a sales mission throughout Eastern Australia to deepen relationships with our distribution partners and build awareness and demand for the region throughout their extended networks.  Another highlight was Bundaberg’s presence in TEQ’s Days Like This campaigns, which drove considerable bookings to our regional operators.”

For more details on recent BT’s activities in trade and experience development, download our Activity Reports and Annual Reports.


Flexible working arrangements mean travelers have the ability to combine work and travel.  Greater digital flexibility supports the growing desire for travel and life to be complementary to work – it’s not just about balance, but about finding harmony between work and a life that is truly meaningful and fulfilling.


Since 2020, booking direct with tourism experiences has become a major change in consumer behaviour.  This is strongly connected with the desire to support local, and will continue for some time especially for tours and experiences.  Another key trend that will continue for some time is last-minute booking behaviours.  Regardless whether travel is spontaneous or long planned, the average time between booking and travel is 2-3 weeks.

Bundaberg Tourism’s marketing team has been witnessing these consumer behavioural trends for years, and Marketing Manager, Ellie Tonkin, has been particularly interested in the changes of the past two years.  “COVID has been quite the disrupter for tourism and for marketing – we have seen massive changes in consumer behaviour as values and attitudes have been significantly altered by this pandemic, and these have kept us on our toes!

“Our destination marketing campaigns are a fantastic gauge of what consumers want and need.  Mon Repos Turtle Encounter ticket sales are a vital temperature check on what to expect from our annual peak season, for instance.  Our social media channels provide us with real-time feedback on what’s trending, with Elliott Heads, Kellys Beach and underwater experiences dominating over the summer, and Bundaberg Rum and our cellar doors, our national parks especially Burrum Coast and Mt Walsh, and drive experiences being most popular over winter.  Thanks to all of the data now available to us, and the skilled team of marketers we have in the BT team, we are able to respond to consumers and their changing needs on the spot to ensure the region remains relevant and desirable.”


Digital communication is bigger than ever before.  Content is king, with consumers seeking inspiration and information from across the web and social media to help them plan and book their travel.  QR codes are now mainstream, after many years of irrelevance, and offer quick and easy access to information for consumers.

Visitor Experience Manager, Anna Maslen, has noted the importance of evolving the way Bundaberg Tourism has delivered Visitor Services over the past few years.  “Before COVID, our Visitor Information Centres were assisting approximately 70% of our visitors in person and 30% via phone, emails or via online chat.  Summer 2021/22 saw a considerable change in how people are seeking information, with only 40% of enquiries made in person and 60% made via phone, emails or via online chat.”

“People still want face-to-face contact with local ambassadors – that will never change – but they also want to connect with us remotely, and the Visitor Information Centre teams will continue to extend personalised customer service in a variety of different ways, with visitor needs and wants always front of mind.”


Bundaberg Tourism continues to stay abreast of changing consumer trends through extensive research, industry engagement, big data and the ongoing results seen through our destination marketing and visitor servicing activities.  We look forward to what the coming years will bring for our incredible region.