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Backpackers now a multi-billion market.

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Media Release The Hon Joe Hockey MP Minister for Small Business and Tourism

11 November 2003 03/231


Backpackers touring in Australia in 2002 spent $2.8 billion - making them a major tourist market.

Of this market, $2.5 billion was spent by the 88% of backpackers visiting from overseas.

Despite their reputation for making every cent count, backpackers now represent a significant market segment, with international backpackers spending $5319 each, excluding any pre-paid airfares and package deals bought from Australian tourist operators. The figure of $5319 is the equivalent of the export earnings of 127 tonnes of coal or 27 tonnes of wheat.

According to the publication, Backpackers in Australia, 2002, Niche Market Report No. 2, released today by the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Joe Hockey, overseas backpackers contribute only 10% of visitors to Australia, but contribute 22% of expenditure by international visitors.

The report provides information on a range of visitor measures, including expenditure, origin, purpose of visit, accommodation, activities, and states and attractions visited.

While the domestic backpacker’s expenditure per night ($130) is significantly higher than that by international backpackers ($79), their per trip expenditure is much lower. The $5319 spent by international backpackers in 2002 was more than double the average trip expenditure of $2549 for all international visitors. Domestic backpackers spent $846 per trip.

‘The international backpacker market has grown rapidly over the last decade,’ Mr Hockey said.

‘Despite an uncertain global environment, the backpacker market has been resilient. International backpacker numbers growing by around 71 000 since 1999 - an increase of 18%, as compared to an increase of 7.7% cent over the same period for all international visitors,’ he said.

Backpackers also travel more widely, reaching an average of 2.7 Australian states or territories per trip, compared to 1.7 for total international visitors. New South Wales was the most popular state, followed by Victoria for domestic backpackers and Queensland for international visitors.

The vast majority of international backpacker visitors came from the United Kingdom and Europe in 2002, and backpacker visitors from Korea had the longest average stay at 90 nights. New Zealand backpackers recorded the lowest length of stay at only 30.5 nights.

International and domestic backpackers preferred very different activities during their 2002 visits, with top activities for international travellers being shopping for pleasure, going to the beach, visiting national parks, and going to clubs, pubs and discos. Domestic backpackers

spent most of their travel time on social activities, eating out and ecotourism.

Copies of the report are available from the Bureau of Tourism Research; phone: +61 2 6213 6940 or email:

Media enquiries: Dr Peter Robins BTR 02 6213 7125 Bob Lawrence Minister’s Office 02 6277 7450