Determining how many of the 350 million domestic and international visits to and within Australia were to our wine Geographical Indication (GI) regions in 2018–19 is not a simple task. However, new questions on the annual Tourism Research Australia (TRA) surveys are now providing a better picture of not just how many people are visiting an Australian wine region, but how many are visiting a winery and what they are spending on average during their visit.
At the macro level, TRA estimate that in 2018–19 there were 8.4 million visits to wineries from both domestic (day and overnight) and international travellers. Travellers that included a visit to a winery spent a collective total of $9.6 billion in Australia during their trip and are typically higher spenders with an average spend per person of $1136 (the average across all visitors was $380).
Figure 1: Wine tourism snapshot 2018–19
Source: Tourism Research Australia
Relating this back to the total visits to Australia, it is estimated that 1 in 8 international visitors went to a winery during their trip, while only 2 per cent of Australians went to a winery. However, despite the lower percentage, domestic visitors that went to a winery made up the largest total number with 7.4 million visits in 2018–19 versus 1 million international visits. The majority (93 per cent) of all these domestic winery visitors were on a holiday or visiting friends and family.
Recent changes to the TRA surveys means that we are now starting to get a better picture of the wine regions that are being visited across Australia.
Wine regions visited by Australians on day and overnight trips
In 2018–19, the most visited wine regions for domestic travellers who also went to a winery in the area were Margaret River, Mornington Peninsula, Hunter and Barossa Valley. For nearly all of these regions, winery visits also had the highest share of the total visits to the region; with Barossa Valley at 41 per cent, Margaret River at 30 per cent, McLaren Vale at 25 per cent. While Mudgee (which is not in the top ten by total numbers) was next at 19 per cent, followed by Hunter at 14 per cent.
Regions in growth in the top 10 last financial year compared to 2017–18 were Mornington Peninsula, Hunter, Tasmania, Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Goulburn Valley.
Figure 2: Domestic day and overnight travel in 2018–19 to GI regions for all visitors and those that visited wineries
Note: Visits to wineries is derived using registered GI and the TRA survey’s ‘visited winery’ activity by stopover. Source: Tourism Research Australia National Visitor Survey.
The mix between where visitors are from and whether they are staying overnight or just visiting for the day varies between each of the top 5 regions. While Tasmania is skewed towards overnight visits due to its geographical location and that the whole state is its own GI, Hunter and Mornington Peninsula are more reliant on visits from within their respective states.
Figure 3: Mix of domestic visitors that went to a winery as an activity by top 5 GI regions
Source: Tourism Research Australia National Visitor Survey. Note: Visits to wineries is derived using Wine Australia regions and the ‘visited winery’ activity by stopover
Wine regions visited by overseas tourists on day and overnight trips
In 2018–19, the most visited wine regions from international day and overnight travellers that also went to a winery were Yarra Valley, Hunter, Margaret River and Mornington Peninsula.
Half of these had the highest share of winery visits out of the total visits, with Hunter at 66 per cent, and Margaret River at 55 per cent. The other regions with high share were McLaren Vale at 56 per cent, Pemberton at 55 per cent and Barossa Valley at 53 per cent.
Figure 4: International day and overnight travel in 2018–19 to GI regions for all visitors and those that visited wineries
Source: Tourism Research Australia International Visitor Survey (IVS). Note: Visits to wineries is an estimate based on supplementary questions in the IVS – wine region visited; visit winery, brewery, distillery; location of winery visited (e.g. Other VIC). For NSW regions, the supplementary question ‘Did you visit a NSW winery’ was also used.
The Hunter and Yarra Valley GIs attracted the largest amount of visitors from mainland China to wineries in the area by volume, collectively representing around a quarter of all Chinese visitors to an Australian winery in 2018–19.
Other data sources
At the winery level, our latest Cellar Door and Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) Survey estimated that there were more than 17,000 visits to the cellar door per winery on average in 2018–19.
Figure 5: Visitor number estimates per winery (‘000s) in 2018–19 comparing DTC to TRA survey data
While these results show a positive correlation across a number of regions, it is important to take into consideration that the DTC survey estimate is based on a small sample and visitor counting methods at each winery are not consistent.
Click here for our new Wine Tourism Snapshot 2018–19.
 For the purpose of this bulletin, all regions referred to are based on Geographical Indication (GI) region boundaries – not tourism region boundaries.