8634.0 - Tourism Indicators, Australia, Dec 2000  
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This article was published in the December Quarter 2000 issue of Tourism Indicators, Australia (ABS Catalogue No. 8634.0)


For the four quarters of the year 2000, the Survey of Tourist Accommodation (STA) was expanded to include, in addition to licensed hotels, motels, guest houses and serviced apartments, the following sectors:

  • holiday flats, units and houses of letting entities with 15 or more rooms or units;
  • caravan parks with 40 or more powered sites; and
  • visitor hostels with 25 or more beds.


This article compares the annual 2000 results of the expanded collection with the corresponding data in 1997.

While all three sectors exhibited fairly strong growth in takings, only visitor hostels and to a much lesser extent holiday flats, recorded increased capacity. Total capacity in caravan parks fell 3.7% (see Graph F1.1).

Holiday flats, units and houses

In the 3 years to December 2000, the number of holiday flats, units and houses increased to 29,835, a 4% rise. Over the same period takings increased by 17% to $400.6 million (see Table F1.2). Takings were highest ($117.2 million), during the December quarter 2000, an increase of 21% compared to the December quarter 1997. This level of growth over the three year period was matched only in the September quarter 2000.

F1.2 Tourist accommodation - Selected Holiday flats, units and houses

% change
Holiday flats, units and houses(a)
Letting entities (no.)
Capacity flats, units and houses (no.)
28 820
29 835
Unit nights occupied ('000)
5 023
5 098
Unit occupancy rates (%)(b)
Unit lettings ('000)
1 011
Average length of stay (days)
Takings from accommodation ($'000)
342 543
400 605
Persons employed (no.)
2 783
2 905

(a) Of letting entities with 15 or more units.
(b) Change is shown in terms of percentage points

Queensland had the majority (51%) of all holiday flats, units and houses in the year 2000, followed by New South Wales with 33%. This result is similar to 1997, when Queensland had 50% of all holiday flats, units and houses.

The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory had the highest occupancy rates in 2000, with 73%, while Victoria had the lowest occupancy rate of 36%. These trends remained relatively unchanged on the 1997 calendar year results, when the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory recorded the highest occupancy rates (67% and 61%, respectively). However, where Victoria had the lowest occupancy rate over the year 2000 (36%), it was New South Wales which had the lowest in 1997 (37%). New South Wales was the only State (excluding the Territories) in which occupancy rates for holiday flats, units and houses increased between 1997 and 2000.

Of the $400.6 million in takings for the calendar year 2000, the largest shares were held by Queensland 59% ($235.4 million), and New South Wales 24% ($96.4 million). Tasmania recorded the smallest share with less than 1% ($2.8 million). These relative State proportions were similar to 1997 levels: Queensland 58% ($198.8 million); New South Wales 21% ($71.8 million); and Tasmania 1% ($3.5 million) (see Graph F1.3).

Caravan parks

The capacity available in caravan parks at the end of 2000 was 244,905 vans, sites, cabins and flats, a 4% decrease since the previous survey was conducted in 1997. The number of other powered and unpowered sites and on-site vans in caravan parks decreased by 6% (14,118), and 10% to 15,564, respectively. These falls were partially offset by a significant rise in the number of cabins in caravan parks, which increased 36% to 24,236 (see Table F1.4).

F1.4 Tourist accommodation - Selected Caravan Parks

% change
Caravan parks(a)
Establishments (no.)
Short-term caravan parks
1 223
1 190
Long-term caravan parks
Total caravan parks
1 893
1 800
Capacity (no.)
On-site vans
17 256
15 564
Other powered sites
167 557
160 299
Unpowered sites
51 666
44 806
Cabins, flats etc.
17 884
24 236
Total capacity
254 363
244 905
Site nights occupied ('000)
43 580
43 976
Site occupancy rates (%)(b)
Takings from accommodation ($'000)
482 951
587 449
Persons employed (no.)
8 880
9 338

(a) With 40 or more powered sites
(b) Change shown in terms of percentage points

These changes in the nature of caravan parks, particularly in the quantity of the more expensive cabins and flats, are reflected in a 22% increase in takings over the three year period to $587.4 million. During 2000, takings were highest in the December quarter, an increase of 25% on the same quarter in 1997. However, the strongest quarter on quarter growth was in the September quarter, which increased 28%. Average takings per site night occupied in caravan parks increased slightly over the same period, up from $11 in 1997 to $13 for the year 2000.

Graph F1.5 shows that only Tasmania and the Northern Territory increased their caravan park capacity over the 3 year period, while all States except the ACT experienced growth in accommodation takings.

Short-term caravan parks represented 71% of total capacity at the end of December 2000. New South Wales had a third (34%) of all caravan park capacity for the calendar year 2000, with the number of cabins increasing 61% between 1997 and 2000. As in 1997, New South Wales had the highest site occupancy rate in 2000 (56%). Site occupancy rates were lowest in South Australia and the Northern Territory (37%) for the year 2000.

Visitor hostelsFor the calendar year 2000, there was a 33% increase in visitor hostel bed spaces available nationally, with takings increasing by 72% to $129.8 million, when compared with 1997 annual figures (see Table F1.6). As in 1997, the December quarter was the largest contributor to annual takings in 2000 with $34.8 million, slightly more than the $34.7 million taken in the September quarter 2000. However, in terms of growth it was the September quarter which proved strongest, increasing takings by 81% since the September quarter 1997. Visitor hostels showed an increase in average takings per guest night from $14 in 1997 to $18 over the year 2000.

F1.6 Tourist accommodation-Selected Visitor Hostels

% change
Visitor hostels(a)
Establishments (no.)
Capacity bed spaces
30 650
40 659
Guest nights (no.)
5 254 729
7 154 685
Bed occupancy rates (%)(b)
Average length of stay (days)
Takings from accommodation ($'000)
75 684
129 797
Persons employed (no.)
2 001
2 972

(a) With 25 or more beds
(b) Change is shown in terms of percentage points

All States except South Australia saw an increase in the total number of visitor hostel bed spaces since 1997 (see Graph F1.7). Queensland held the largest percentage share of visitor hostel bed spaces at 32%, (down 1% compared to three years ago). By contrast, New South Wales increased its share to 23%, Victoria's share increased to 15% and Western Australia increased its share to 11%. Tasmania's share of bed spaces fell to 4%, despite the number of bed spaces available increasing over the last three years. In South Australia the number of bed spaces available decreased by 20%, reducing its share of total bed spaces to 5%.

As in 1997, the highest bed occupancy rate for visitor hostels in the year 2000 occurred in New South Wales, which at 56% was four percentage points lower than the 1997 rate, but still six percentage points higher than the Australian average rate. The lowest occupancy rate for 2000 was in Tasmania (20%), marginally higher than the 18% in 1997.

Further information can be found in Tourist Accommodation, Australia (Cat. no. 8635.0), available from ABS bookshops or by contacting Neil McKellar-Stewart on Brisbane (07) 3222 6364.