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From $317,000 cruises to all-year hotel stays, how our city became holiday central


Brisbane as a tourist town, who would have thought?

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According to Flight Centre’s end of year report card, Brisbane beat London and Bali as a destination for Australian travellers this year with the city coming in third behind Sydney and Melbourne.

Research released earlier this year showed that 866,000 holiday makers visited the city in the June 30 year, an increase of almost 130 per cent on 2022.

The level of visitation revealed by Flight Centre would be underpinned by a lot of business travel and events but the city has started kicking some tourist goals since the end of pandemic restrictions.

Brisbane’s popularity was also reflected by the recent listing of the Calile Hotel as one of the best in the world. Time Magazine also listed Brisbane among its 50 extraordinary destinations.

Travel is often considered to be for the young but the Flight Centre data shows that the fundamentals of travel are very different. The average age of a traveller was 50 and they usually spend about $7000.

Solo women made up the biggest client demographic (25 per cent).

“To get an idea of Flight Centre’s typical Aussie customer in 2023, imagine Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Aniston travelling solo to Bali or London, as our most common customer was a 54 year-old woman travelling by herself to Europe or South-East Asia,’’ Flight Centre said.

“Having said that, customers booking as couples weren’t far behind jet-setting J-Lo and Jen. While 43 per cent of customers booked solo, 40 per cent of bookings were for couples, 9 per cent for families and 8 per cent were group bookings. ‘’

The top 10 cruise ports our cruisers visited were Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne followed by Aukland and Adelaide and then Honolulu, Athens and Amsterdam.

The biggest cruise booking made this year was $312,647 and someone tried to book a flight from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane.

London remains the most popular overseas destination followed by Bali while Singapore rates number three because of stopovers. That’s followed by Auckland, Fiji, Tokyo, Athens, Rome, Paris and Bangkok.

The company’s tip for the most popular destinations in 2024 behind London was Singapore, Bali, Auckland, Fiji, Hawaii and Tokyo.

The northern-most destination booked by Flight Centre customers was Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. The southern-most destination our customers visited was Ushuaia, capital of the Tierra del Fuego region in southern Argentina.

And despite the average hotel stay being six days, the longest stay was a hotel booking for 367 days.

“The shortest hotel stay was for less than a day. There were lots of them, too,’’ the company said.

The top family holiday domestic destinations within Australia were: Cairns, the Gold Coast, Port Douglas. Fiji was the favourite international destination for families.

The average age of our cruise customers was 59 years and 6 months. These cruiser-boomers contributed to cruising’s increasing popularity through 2023.  Recent research by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) indicates that the volume of people booking cruises globally will exceed the pre-Covid high in 2019 by 6% in 2023 and another 14% in 2024.2

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