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The cost of a capital-city holiday

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=8,370).

With the exception of a few hardened backpackers and folks staying with friends or family, taking a holiday generally involves a considerable financial outlay. Obviously, destination plays a key part in this, with some holiday spots costing substantially more than others. Australia’s capital cities are a case in point, as the latest findings from the Roy Morgan Holiday Tracker reveal…

In the year to June 2015, almost 12 million Australians aged 14+ took at least one domestic holiday, with the average cost per head/per night of their last domestic trip being $150. Without exception, this figure was higher for people whose last holiday was spent in a capital city — but with some striking differences depending on which city they visited.

Nobody will be surprised to learn that the country’s two most populous cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are more expensive on a per-person/per-night basis than any other capital. Aussies who took their last holiday in either of these two cities shelled out $197 per person per night on average.

Holiday cost per night/per person in Australia’s capitals

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=8,370).

Hobart is not particularly easy on the hip pocket, either, averaging $186 per person per night; nor is Perth, for that matter ($178).

In fact, holiday-makers considering a city break could do a lot worse than our nation’s capital, Canberra ($151)! Sunny Brisbane, which averages out at $158 per person per night, is also distinguished by its relative affordability.

These prices make many popular regional destinations seem positively economical in comparison. With average per-person/per-night costs of $117, $136 and $115 respectively, the North, Far North and South Coasts of NSW (spanning holiday havens such as Port Stephens, Byron Bay and Merimbula) provide thrifty alternatives for travellers willing to forego the bright lights of the big cities.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road ($121) and Queensland’s Hervey Bay/Fraser Island region ($136) also come in below the national average.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“With their countless cultural, culinary, sporting and retail attractions (not to mention more expensive accommodation options), Australia’s capital cities tend to offer the visitor more opportunities to part with their hard-earned dollars than smaller, regional holiday destinations. This is confirmed by our latest Holiday Tracking Survey data, which reveals that the average cost per person/per night is above the national average in each of the Australian capitals.

“While the fact that Sydney and Melbourne are the most costly capitals is not especially surprising, Canberra’s distinction as our most affordable capital city is quite unexpected! With a surfeit of world-class galleries, museums and monuments, as well as a vibrant dining scene, Canberra’s budget-friendly status won’t last forever, so get there while you can!

“Although many regional destinations provide a more budget-friendly alternative for the domestic holiday-maker, this is not always the case. Destinations such as Darwin and Port Douglas generally give the capital cities a run for their money in terms of average cost per person per night…”

For comments or more information about Roy Morgan Research’s Travel and Tourism data, please contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

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

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%