Cultural visitation highlights - 2020

  • In 2020 there were 3.6 million cultural visitors to and within Victoria, a sharp decline on prior year (12.3 million). International visitors only represent 10% of the total cultural visitors.
  • Year on year international cultural visitors declined 1.5 million compared to domestic cultural visitors declining 7.2 million. State border closures as well as the ring of steel (between Melbourne and regional Victoria) influenced this.
  • 39% of all cultural visitors to/within Victoria visited a museum or art gallery.
  • Cultural visitors who experienced at least three cultural activities spent $741 million in 2020, a decrease of 70% ($2.5 billion in 2019).

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Cultural tourism iconCultural visitation - total

In 2020 there were 3.6 million cultural visitors to and within Victoria. This represents a significant decrease of 71% compared 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the total visitors to/within Melbourne, 9% engaged with a cultural activity, compared with 7% for regional Victoria.

Cultural visitors travelling to/within Victoria were most likely to visit a museum or art gallery (39%).

  • 36% of domestic cultural visitors visited a history or heritage building, site or monument and/or a museum or art gallery.
  • 70% of all Victorian cultural international tourists visited a museum or art gallery.

Cultural visitation is expected to increase in 2021/2022 as travel restrictions are eased and borders reopen.

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globeCultural visitation - international

In 2020 there were 615,000 international visitors to Victoria. Of this 59% (363,000) of these visitors were cultural visitors.International cultural visitation has declined significantly by 80% since 2019 due to the reduction of international travel and the resulting ceasing of international data collection because of the COVID-19 pandemic.*

International cultural visitors who experienced at least three cultural activities spent $666 million in 2020, compared to $2.03 billion in 2019, representing a 67% decrease in spend.

Where do people come from?

The largest cohort of international visitors to Victoria that experienced at least one cultural activity came from China (17% of all cultural visitors).

In 2020, there was a shift in where Victorian international cultural visitors originated. China share has decreased from 22% (2019) to 17% (2020). This decrease in share has been offset by the following top markets, the United Kingdom which increased its share from 9% (2019) to 12% (2020) and a few others who each had a 1%-point increase (United States, Japan, Korea, and Germany).

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Regional iconCultural visitation - domestic

In 2020 there were 49.0 million domestic visitors to and within Victoria (overnight and day trips). Of this 7% (3.2 million) of these visitors were considered cultural visitors.

Domestic cultural visitation has declined significantly by 69% since 2019 due to the COVID-19 various movement restrictions and lockdowns throughout the year.

Of domestic cultural visitors to/within Victoria in 2020, 72% were daytrip, while 68% experienced at least one cultural activity in regional Victoria.

The Great Ocean Road had the largest (15%) share of all domestic cultural overnight trips to/within regional Victoria in 2020.

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The highest proportion of daytrips by domestic cultural visitors is to Mornington Peninsula (16%), followed by Gippsland and Goldfields (12% each), Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges (11%) and Murray and Geelong and the Bellarine (10% each).

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Domestic cultural visitors travelling to/within Melbourne were most likely to visit a museum or art gallery (43%).

Domestic cultural visitors travelling to/within regional Victoria were most likely to visit a heritage building, site, or monument (41%).


Data notes: Sources: International and National Visitor Survey December 2020, Tourism Research Australia. Estimates are for visitors 15+ year. Figures may not add due to rounding. Improvements in the NVS methodology has resulted in a break in series. Please use caution when comparing these results with previous time periods and releases. For further information on methodology changes and impacts refer to the Tourism Research Australia NVS Methodology.

Cultural visitor definition: Cultural visitors are defined as those who attended one or more of the following cultural experiences theatre, concerts or other performing arts, visited museums or art galleries, visited art or craft workshops or studios, attended festivals, fairs or cultural events or visited history, heritage building sites or monuments, experienced aboriginal art/craft and cultural displays, visited an aboriginal site/community and/or attended an aboriginal performance (in the IVS only) while on their trip to/within Australia. Visitors to/within Victoria have undertaken at least one of these activities whilst on a trip to Australia, not necessarily in Victoria. When calculating spend 'cultural visitor' is defined as engaging in three or more cultural experiences during their trip, to avoid over-estimating expenditure where the cultural activity may not have been engaged with in Victoria.

* International Visitors Survey (IVS) ceased in the March quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.