By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: Paul Aldridge, Fabian Cotter + various

DESPITE the impact of pandemic-induced lockdowns across Australia since early 2020, global interest in Australian domestic coach tourism routes has increased a massive 426 per cent, according to a leading German bus-travel booking and analysis site report, published recently.

While the German CheckMyBus report noted a massive drop in Australian users as mentioned, it also recorded an, “…enormous increase of 426 per cent in the number of searches done in our platform for Australian routes.”

In its first edition on the Australian coach sector - published using (CMB) data from 2019 and 2020 – while Australian-sourced searches for best travel routes often fluctuated or dropped, there was still high interest from a range of travellers worldwide, boding well for local bus tourism operators when – and if – the pandemic ends.

The research - published as the 2020 Australian Coach Transport Market Report, created by the team at CheckMyBus – compared what’s referred to as the Australian ‘user changes’ under CheckMyBus’s online ‘.com’ domain, where it found a 50.58 per cent decrease comparing 2019 and 2020 data.*

It should be noted this data derived from its .com domain, which is the main source of ‘traffic’ for Australia; this doesn’t factor in CMB’s 20 other domains, it confirms.

In addition to overall search volume, CheckMyBus examined how the user demographics were impacted in 2020.

The primary cause of this 50.58 per cent decrease was the lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19, it suggests.

"Australians faced a long period of suspended travel, which in turn decreased search volume as routes were no longer available," it reports.

"Even during times when reduced timetables were available, uncertainty also affected search volume," it adds.

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Generally, the percentage of users from certain states remained the same, with notable exceptions being Queensland, which had a 5 per cent drop in users; South Australia, which had a 4 per cent increase; and Western Australia, which experienced 6 per cent growth, it states.

Aside from various regional lockdowns, this could also be due to, "…new [CMB] partnerships and expansions in these regions," it suggests.



While the report noted a massive drop in Australian users as mentioned, it also recorded an, "…enormous increase of 426 per cent in the number of searches done in our platform for Australian routes."

"As we mentioned [on Insight 1], we believe the primary reason for this was that CMB had signed new partnerships during 2020 and added new stations/routes during the same period, it says.

With that stated, looking at the increasing number of searches for Australian routes, CMB wanted to figure out from which countries most of its international traffic for Australian routes came from.

The chart it produced [below] does not include domestic searches since CMB wanted to focus on international interest.

"We found that India is the leading country for international searches in Australia, followed by New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the USA.

This data for international traffic was extracted using the 250 most commonly searched route pairs. The main destinations searched in Australia, though, remained quite stable, it says.

Melbourne and Sydney kept their positions while Canberra and Coffs Harbour increased in ranking.

Meanwhile Adelaide, Toowoomba and Ballarat decreased in ranking. This data is derived from CMB's .com domain, including searches done from domestic and international users, it says.

Searches done for the top ranked origin-destination pairs did not show a significant difference, but rather minor percentage changes.





Another local insight was that some short distance routes gained popularity, such as Canberra - Sydney and Sydney – Canberra, which ranked higher in 2020 compared to 2019, CMB says.

While Melbourne – Sydney maintained a consistent search volume, CMB states that there was a significant decline in the opposite direction.

"We observed a similar trend for the Melbourne – Adelaide route. A primary reason for this is that Victoria was the epicentre of Australia’s second Covid-19 wave, and several regional lockdowns and restrictions were in place during different times around the entire country."



While gender breakdown is hard to establish via search data, unless offered by the participant, CMB-observed age demographics for Australian users found that the percentage of users over 65 years decreased compared to 2019.

This is likely, says the organisation, due to this age group tending to be at the highest risk for Covid-19. In turn, the 25 – 34 demographic increased proportionately, it adds.



Though this was the first edition of CMB’s report on the Australian coach market, it says it is planning to publish the next edition in January/February 2022, which will utilise the 2021 data and help provide even more insights into the Australian market.

Overall, CMB is, "…very glad to see the demand and interest continue to grow for Australian routes," it explains.

"This is a result of good collaborations with partners we were able to work with this past year.

"We are very positive that post-Covid, this market's performance will continue to expand."


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