Domestic Arts Tourism: Connecting the country

February 17, 2020

Image credit: Homage to the Castlemaine Woollen Mill workers – Libre Hem, 2017. Credit: Denise Button, The Mill Castlemaine.

Watch the Domestic Arts Tourism: Connecting the Country webinar.

A recording of this webinar is now ready to view. 

The relationship between art and travel is long-standing, deep and complex. We travel to see art, and even when art isn’t our primary destination, we naturally gravitate to the art of a place in order to understand the meaning of that place.

Domestic tourism provides an opportunity for Australians to immerse themselves in exceptional cultural experiences, and many Australians are travelling to experience the arts: at concerts, in galleries, on stages, or through more niche opportunities across the country.

Arts experiences have a growing role as a driver for tourism in Australia and are increasingly part of visitors’ itineraries. This report presents trends and insights on how Australians connect with the arts as they travel around the country, whether on short daytrips or longer overnight stays. It helps build the picture of Australians’ willingness to travel for the arts, of the value of the arts in helping us understand the place we are in, and the great capacity of the arts to support local economies and build stronger regional communities.

From large scale festivals and events, to visits to artist workshops and studios, the arts draw domestic tourists to both metropolitan and regional locations, providing opportunities to share local creativity and culture with visitors.

There is a willingness to travel to destinations beyond capital cities to seek new and authentic experiences, including growing engagement with First Nations arts and craft – diverse expressions of the world’s oldest continuing living culture.

Australians are connected through these experiences by building our community wellbeing, cultural identity and social cohesion, while supporting local and regional economies.

As a priority under our five-year strategy Creativity Connects Us, the Australia Council is committed to enabling more opportunities for Australians to be captivated by arts experiences in everyday life. We want inspiring arts experiences to be welcoming and easily accessible, and reflective of our unique culture that is simultaneously ancient and contemporary.

This report is a companion piece to our previous research publication International Arts Tourism: Connecting cultures. Together these reports highlight the value of arts and culture to Australia’s tourism strategies and the importance of a vibrant, creative landscape for tourism, the broader visitor economy and society as a whole. They also equip artists and arts organisations with valuable intelligence about the behaviours and interests of tourists in Australia and strengthen the evidence base for Australian arts and creativity.

Elevating the value and broader relevance of arts and creativity in Australian public life and policy making is critical to a creatively connected nation where creative enterprise is entrenched across society, industry and government as the fuel that ignites our social, cultural and economic success.

Dr Wendy Were, Executive Director Strategic Development and Advocacy.

Media contact:

Brianna Roberts, Media Manager
Australia Council for the Arts
Phone: (02) 9215 9030
Mobile: 0498 123 541

Key insights:

  • Domestic arts tourism is growing: Greater numbers of Australians are travelling than ever before. Along with population growth and overall growth in domestic tourism, the numbers of Australians engaging with the arts while exploring their own country are growing.
  • There are unique offerings in different parts of Australia: There is no one-size-fits all for arts engagement on a domestic trip – Australians connect with the arts in a broad range of ways. The most popular and fastest-growing arts tourism activities vary across the country. Each state, territory and region offers unique arts and creative experiences, and this is reflected in the data.
  • First Nations arts and craft are a strong and growing area of domestic arts tourism: First Nations arts tourism is increasing, reflecting Australians’ strong and growing interest in engaging with First Nations arts for their beauty, strength and power, and to understand who we are as a nation. The regions where tourists are most likely to engage with First Nations arts and craft are in regional Australia, and particularly regional areas of the Northern Territory where First Nations arts and craft are driving arts engagement by tourists.
  • Arts tourism tends to align with travelling further, staying longer and spending more: Arts tourists are high value tourists – they are more likely to stay longer and spend more when travelling than domestic tourists overall. Australians are more likely to engage with the arts when they travel further afield – those who take overnight trips rather than daytrips, and those who travel outside their home state. The areas where tourists are most likely to engage with the arts are often outside the large east coast capital cities.

Destinations around Australia:

Click on each image to learn about different arts destinations for domestic tourists across Australia.


Domestic arts tourist definition

In this research, a domestic arts tourist is defined as a resident of Australia who did at least one of the following while on a daytrip or overnight trip within Australia:

  • attended theatre, concerts or other performing arts
  • visited museums or art galleries
  • visited art or craft workshops or studios
  • attended festivals, fairs or cultural events
  • experienced First Nations art, craft and cultural displays

Australians travel in different ways, depending on their destination, time available and preferences. This report includes analysis of daytrips and overnight trips.

Daytrip definition

Tourism Research Australia defines daytrip visitors as Australian residents who travelled at least 50 kilometres away from home (round trip) and were away from home for at least four hours but do not spend a night away from home as part of their travel.

Australians travelling on daytrips are likely to go to destinations closer to their home, given the limited time daytrips afford.

Overnight trip definition

Overnight trips are taken by Australians wanting to stay longer at their destination, or who may be visiting a destination that is further away from their home. Tourism Research Australia defines an overnight trip as a trip where Australian residents stayed one or more nights at least 40km from home while travelling within Australia.

Tourism Research Australia’s tourism regions

Tourism Research Australia divides Australia into 77 tourism regions based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) geography standard. Throughout this report selected tourism regions are highlighted by data and case studies.

Time periods for analysis

To ensure sufficient sample sizes for analysis, this report looks at two time periods. At the overall, state and territory, capital city tourism regions and metropolitan and regional levels, analysis is based on data for the 2018 calendar year. All other tourism region data is reported as four-year average data from 2015–2018 unless specified.

Australians are more likely to engage with the arts when they travel further afield – those who take overnight trips rather than daytrips, and those who travel outside their home state. The areas where tourists are most likely to engage with the arts are often outside the large east coast capital cities.

Tourism regions with the highest proportion of arts activity for daytrips, 2015–2018

    Ballarat (Vic)

2     Canberra (ACT)

3     Bendigo Loddon (Vic)

4     North West (Tas)

5    Capital Country (NSW)

6    Sydney (NSW)

7    Adelaide Hills (SA)

8    Melbourne (Vic)

9    Hobart and the South (Tas)

10   Southern Queensland Country (Qld)

Tourism regions with the highest proportion of arts activity on overnight stopovers, 2015–2018

     Lasseter (NT)

2     Hobart and the South (Tas)

3     Canberra (ACT)

4     Alice Springs (NT)

5    Darwin (NT)

6    Spa Country (Vic)

7    Litchfield Kakadu Arnhem (NT)

8    Outback NSW

9    Melbourne (Vic)

10   Bendigo Loddon (Vic)