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Where we’d like to go on holiday isn’t necessarily where we end up

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), May 2013 – April 2014 (n=17,391).
Dreaming of an idyllic Hawaiian beach holiday is one thing, but getting there is something else. The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research indicate that Australians’ holiday destination preferences don’t always determine where they end up. Well, except when that destination is Melbourne. The Victorian capital is not only the destination most visited by holidaying Aussies, but also tops the list of places we’d most like to take a holiday in – domestic or international.

When asked where they’d like to take a holiday in the next two years, 21.5% of Australians 14+ (or 4,154,000 people) nominated Melbourne, ahead of the Gold Coast (16.2% or 3,116,000 people), the UK (14.6%), the US (14.4%) and New Zealand (12.6%).

Top 10 destinations Australians would like to visit in the next 2 years


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), May 2013 – April 2014 (n=17,391). Places respondents would like to travel for at least one night (nett trip) in the next two years. Red bars: overseas destinations

Melbourne’s popularity remains unchallenged since 2006, when 20.2% of Australians reported that they’d like to visit (well ahead of Sydney at 14.6%). Back then, however, more of us ended up holidaying in Sydney than in Melbourne.

But in the 12 months to April 2014, Melbourne attracted more visitors (1,899,000 people or 9.8% of the population) than any other holiday destination, surpassing Sydney (1,486,000 people or 7.7%), the Gold Coast (6.1%), Sunshine Coast (5.2%) and the north coast of NSW (Forster, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Taree, Port Stephens etc; 5.2%).

Top 10 destinations Australians visited on holiday in the last 12 months


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), May 2013 – April 2014 (n=17,391). Places respondents have stayed for at least one night on their last trip in the last 12 months (nett trip).

Although overseas destinations accounted for three of the Top Five places Australians would most like to holiday, the reality paints a different picture. Domestic destinations comprise eight of the 10 places most visited by holidaying Aussies in the 12 months to April 2013, with New Zealand and the UK scraping in at ninth and tenth respectively. Still, there’s no harm in dreaming of distant shores…

Jane Ianniello, International Director of Tourism, Travel & Leisure, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Marvellous Melbourne does it again! Not only has Australia’s cultural, sporting and shopping capital topped the list of places Australians would like to visit for a holiday of at least one night, it’s also our most visited holiday destination. Australians simply can’t get enough of Melbourne, and would prefer to holiday there than its perennial rival Sydney or any overseas destination.

“However, the Harbour City ranks second in terms of visitation, despite coming in at sixth in terms of preference. But this is not unusual: preferred destinations do not always align with those visited. While overseas rates highly in terms of preference, the relative ease and affordability of domestic travel has a huge influence on where we actually take our holidays.

“For non-Melburnian destination marketers seeking to boost their visitor numbers, Roy Morgan’s profiling tool Helix Personas can help to identify holidaymakers who might be tempted to visit their region. For example, nearly a quarter of New School Cool individuals would like to take a holiday in Sydney in the next two years. These young, high-earning singles appreciate the finer things in life, including travelling in style – their Sydney jaunt would be no budget backpacker affair.

“Meanwhile, 20% of Country Conservatives would like a Gold Coast holiday. Predominantly based in rural areas, these hard-working, blue collar Aussies don’t want anything fancy or high-faluting, and are more likely to choose a destination for its sun, surf and sand than for its cultural credentials.”

For comments or more information please contact:

Jane Ianniello
International Director of Tourism, Travel & Leisure
Office: +61 (7) 3318 7000
Mobile: +61 423 024 412

Related research findings

View our extensive range of Travel and Tourism reports, including Holiday intention reports, Destination preference, and Holiday traveller profiles. These profiles provide a broad understanding of the target audience, in terms of demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage in Australia.

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%