Southerners flock to Brisbane to visit runaway relatives

21 DECEMBER 2022

Brisbane’s migration boom has had ripple effects on interstate tourism, with visitors from Victoria breaking records to stay longer and spend more while visiting family and friends.

Latest figures from Tourism Research Australia show overnight visitor spending in Brisbane was $5.5 billion for the year ending September 2022, up 3% on 2019 and 67.3% on 2021.

Brisbane was a top destination for 687,000 people from Victoria, who racked up 3.3 million nights in the River City – an increase of 20% from 2019.

The bulk of travellers were in town visiting family and friends following mass migration to Brisbane from Victoria and New South Wales during the pandemic.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Brisbane was appealing to a new generation of Australians discovering the city’s lifestyle offerings. 

“Our newest residents have been great ambassadors, showcasing local hotspots and leaving an impression on loved ones,” Cr Schrinner said.

“The fact we are attracting so many visitors from Melbourne is proof of Brisbane’s credentials as an arts and entertainment hub.

“Institutions like the Brisbane Powerhouse, QAGOMA, and QPAC alongside dozens of boutique galleries and unique music venues like the Fortitude Music Hall have helped cement that reputation.

“With modern precincts including Howard Smith Wharves, James Street, West Village, Fish Lane, and the much-loved Queen Street Mall, there’s an endless list of places to wine, dine, and be entertained.”

Anthony Ryan, CEO of Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), said efforts to boost national interest were having an impact.

“BEDA has been targeting interstate travellers since borders reopened earlier this year, now we’re seeing fantastic results with visitor numbers bouncing back from lockdown,” Mr Ryan said.

“People see Brisbane on the news, and in their social media feeds, and can tell it’s an exciting place to be.

“And it’s not just about escaping for a long weekend. We’ve had record results for holiday visitor nights – up 8.4% from 2019. We also know people are spending more, with an average visitor spend of $789. Business visitor numbers are on the rebound too and climbing closer to levels in 2019.

“Our campaigns highlight the best of Brisbane, as well as some of the unique events we host in the city, including the United Cup, Australian PGA Championship, and NRL Magic Round which has attracted sell-out crowds.

“It’s a positive sign for the local tourism industry, with more boots on the ground supporting Brisbane hotels, restaurants and attractions.”

Brisbane’s National Visitor Survey results – Year ending September 2022

  • Total expenditure – $5.5 billion, up 67.3% on 2021
  • Total visitors – 6.9 million, up 27.5%
  • Business visitors – 1.4 million, up 28.9%
  • Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) – 2.9 million visitors, up 28.5%
  • Holiday visitors – 2.2 million visitors, up 28.7%
  • Spend per visitor – $789, up 31.2%

Brisbane national visitors

  • Sydney visitors – 690,000, up 120.1%
  • Melbourne visitors – 470,000, up 139%