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Australians deterred by the unvaccinated, rather than by border closures

That’s the conclusion, guest analyst, Carolyn Childs, CEO of draws from the most recent Catalyst Sparkline poll of 1,000+ Australians conducted by automated survey platform Glow.

58% of Australians said that they would avoid businesses that allowed non-vaccinated people to enter, outnumbering those who won’t be deterred by such a policy by a factor of two to one (see Chart 1 below). But feelings run highest among Millennials and Parents with almost two thirds of each group saying they would be deterred. Childs noted ‘Millennials get a bad rap on many things, but as they increasingly enter peak parenting years, we are really seeing this generation focus on collective responsibility.’

Chart 1. Likelihood to avoid businesses who allow the unvaccinated to enter

Avoid businesses who allow the unvaccinated to enter
Once lockdowns are lifted, how likely are you to avoid a business (such as a restaurant, café, airline) if you know that business is allowing non vaccinated people to enter? N = 1,244

Young women have been among the most vaccine hesitant groups and that too was reflected here. Although half (51%) of Gen Z females said they would avoid businesses in this category, this was well below other groups. In contrast, 62% of men in this age group would not visit.

But whilst Australians were clear on avoiding the non-vaccinated, their desire to travel once borders open is undiminished.

58% said that they were very or fairly likely to travel interstate when borders reopen (see Chart 2) with more than half saying they would travel internationally within 7 months of borders reopening. These numbers have changed little since Glow asked the same question in 2020 – if anything, absolute reluctance to travel may have fallen (20% said they were unlikely to travel interstate compared to 25% last year).

Chart 2. Likelihood to travel Interstate once borders are removed

Likelihood to travel Interstate once borders are removed
When the state borders reopen in Australia, how likely are you to travel interstate? Base 2020 n = 1042 2021 n = 1244

Not only is the likelihood to travel interstate unchanged, but the desire to visit particular states is undimmed as well. The only real difference was a slight increase in likelihood to visit Victoria (See Chart 3). At the time of the 2020 figures the only state with a prolonged second lockdown.

Chart 3. States likely to visit

States likely to visit - Catalyst
Which states or territories are you likely to travel to? Base 2020 n = 566 2021 n = 727

A similar pattern can be seen for overseas travel with little change in likelihood to travel once borders open. However, it seems most people will wait a while to do so for international travel. It is only after around seven to twelve months that most think they will return to international travel. See Chart 4 below:

Chart 4. Likelihood of travel

How likely are you to travel overseas
When the overseas travel ban is lifted, how likely or not likely are you to travel overseas? Base 2020 n = 1042 2021 n = 1244

There has been a consistent shift on rejection of overseas travel for all timeframes. Fewer people are saying they are unlikely to travel, more are saying they haven’t changed their view or don’t know. In summary, we’re looking to travel overseas but not in a rush. But Childs notes ‘context is important – Australians have always had fairly long lead times for overseas travel. These look a little longer but nothing to worry about.’

Who IS busting to get out there? Affluent and younger travellers it seems:

  • One third of those earning over $75k say they would travel overseas within one month of travel reopening.
  • 43% of Millennials and 37% of Gen Z are ready to travel in the first month after the borders lift
  • One quarter of those with kids would do the same, possibly reflecting the desire to reconnect kids with grandparents.

Although older travellers are more reluctant to be among the first travellers out, after twelve months affluent Baby Boomers are very ready to travel.

Among those willing to travel, New Zealand and Europe remain the destinations of choice for a first trip when borders reopen. But compared to 2020, New Zealand’s lead has been eroded. A year ago 44% of Australians willing to travel said that New Zealand was their first choice, a year on that has reduced to 26%. In contrast, 2nd ranked Europe is more popular than a year ago – especially among affluent travellers.

Childs comments ‘I don’t think New Zealand needs to be worried about these results. A year ago, the New Zealand bubble looked like our only option for travel in the near term which means the gap to other destinations was probably a bit inflated. This year with the world opening up, travellers are reacting to the return of choice by selecting a wider range of destinations as their first trip. Not just Europe, but South-East Asia and the Americas are all coming back. New Zealand remains the number one choice for Australians, based on its consistent appeal across all demographics. For me, the big story is how consistent our desire to travel remains.’

By Carolyn Childs, CEO of

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