Tourism’s digital ad spend resilient despite COVID, finds Pathmatics

Digital ad spend by major tourism bodies and airlines in the region has not completely dropped despite the ongoing challenges to the industry faces, new data from Pathmatics has revealed.

The data shows a decrease in spend during the initial border closures in March 2020, but then an increase as some borders opened again.

The above graph is interactable, hover over data points to get specific numbers

In June 2021, Tourism Australia’s digital ad spend reached the highest it had been since January 2020, with $1,695,200 spent. However, this was just a Sydney went into a sudden lockdown that continues.

Tourism Australia’s campaign troubles began on 5 January 2020, when it had to pull the Kylie Minogue fronted ‘Matesong’ campaign amidst the bushfire crisis, but was then reinstated later that same month.

On 23 January 2020, Tourism Australia launched its ‘Holiday Here This Year‘ campaign, which has since been fronted by Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake in October 2020, February 2021, March 2021, and May 2021.

The Australian Government closed the national borders in March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw Qantas pause its entire international operations.

Qantas revived its ‘I still call Australia home‘ campaign in May 2020, targeting international visitors. In September 2020, Qantas urged domestic borders to be open.

However, from the available data, Qantas’ digital ad spend peaked in March 2021 with almost $1 million spent that month. At this point Australia and New Zealand had a travel bubble in place, which has since closed again.

The two New Zealand companies, Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand, follow a similar trend, where a clear decrease can be seen when New Zealand’s borders shut in March 2020.

Tourism New Zealand’s spend experienced a peak in August 2020, around when it launched the ‘Play NZ‘ campaign which turned the country into a video game.

In December 2020, Air New Zealand released its latest safety video, which does not appear to correlate with any increase or decrease in digital ad spend.

Since April 2021, Tourism Australia, Tourism NZ, and Air New Zealand’s spend had all been trending upwards as a result of the Australia and New Zealand travel bubble, however with the ongoing COVID situation in Australia, it is likely spend will not return to those levels until the travel bubble is reinstated.


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