Media: Australian Traveller on right bandwagon

Media: Australian Traveller on right bandwagon

Used to be local travel was associated with three kids in a station wagon with camper van attached heading up or down the coast to the tune of the Leyland Brothers singing, "Travel all over the countryside.... ". Nowadays, there's less of a cultural cringe about having your holiday (or, gasp!, honeymoon) at home. 

"In the past few decades, it was easy to hold many Australian travel experiences up for ridicule, but in the past ten years domestic offerings in even the most remote places are becoming more sophisticated and enjoyable," says Australian Traveller editor Elisabeth Knowles.

"There's no need to self-deprecate, to talk to readers in a tongue-in-cheek, loveable larrikin tone, saying "We know we're second-rate but isn't it cute that we're trying?" We want readers to explore Australia with new eyes, presenting the truth that travel in Australia CAN be world-class and just as rewarding as heading overseas." 

And it's local tourism activity that the industry is relying on as international arrivals plummet. Visitors contracted nine per cent in September and holiday arrivals plunged 18.3 per cent year-on-year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While the Oprah effect has thus far been unable to counteract an Aussie dollar on parity with the green back, natural disasters in Japan and New Zealand have stymied outbound travel activity and Europe's economy puts a strain on travel out of the EU, there's little evidence to suggest things will improve on a grand scale until the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Domestically, Aussies are making the most of their own backyard but even that has its challenges: cue Qantas grounding its entire fleet late last month. Still, there is evidence to suggest interest in interstate travel is gaining momentum. Australian Traveller's readership numbers are up 28.3% year-on-year.

While the total readership is relatively small (77,000 compared to The Australian Women's Weekly's 2,339,000), and 790,600 Aussies headed overseas in September alone, it's a not-insignificant testimony to our current affection for staying close to home.

Call it the Oprah Aussie Adventure Effect if you will, but Knowles attributes her magazine's gains to a greater emphasis on lifestyle elements of the travel industry, marketing exposure, luxury holiday giveaways, a focus on the 35+ female reader and the armchair traveller who might benefit from knowing about places and activities in their own area.

"AT's tagline is "Honestly Australian", and we do still cast a critical eye over some domestic travel product in our reviews but ultimately we want to champion Australian travel through beautiful images and stories that capture the spirit of being Australian," says Knowles. "It's really nice that readers are jumping on board to share the journey. We've tried to make it so you don't really need to travel to get something out of an issue of AT."

Of course, AT's advertisers would like you to travel, and Knowles' own schedule is enough to make anyone pack a bag and activate an 'Out of Office' notification. 

"In the past couple of weeks I have been to the Barossa in SA and the Mornington Peninsula in Vic – both places have such amazing restaurants, local produce and eye-candy country drives," she says. "Next week I head to the Northern Territory, where the wilderness is just so completely different to most people's everyday experience that it really knocks you sideways. You can't help but
feel re-awakened and joyful in a place like Kakadu."

See also:
'Australian tourism in crisis as visitor numbers plunge' @ SMH
Australian Traveller's editor talks shop (and Oprah)

Girl With a Satchel