Aussie travel agency, tour operator businesses grow by over 20% – KARRYON

As travel continues its post-pandemic comeback, travel agencies and advisors have never been busier. But likewise, the number of travel agency and tour operator businesses is booming.

According to Tourism Research Australia’s (TRA) Tourism Businesses Report 2017-2022in June last year, there were 8,647 travel agency and tour operator services based in Australia.

This is 1,502 more travel agency and tour operator businesses than there were in 2017 (7,145), reflecting a 21 per cent increase in the five years to June 2022.

While this is promising news for the sector, the number is still down 356 on the 9,003 businesses reported in 2020, which shows how the impact of the pandemic is still being felt.

Interestingly, the TRA report notes a significant increase in those operating as “mobile and very small travel agents”.



This could have something to do with the successes home-based and mobile agents are currently experiencing. For example, major mobile travel agency network TravelManagers Australia, has been reporting record sales months of late, with February 2023 business up a whopping 77 per cent on the same period in 2019. Its personal travel managers also saw their average commissions rise by more than 81 per cent.

“TravelManagers has received a lot of interest in our post-pandemic model and continues to grow with many experienced consultants and agency owners seeking a better way to run their business,” TravelManagers Australia Executive General Manager Michael Gazal told Karryon.

“The ‘work from home’ model has now become the standard, with the ability to reduce operating costs, which maximizes earning potential and provides true flexibility to choose your working days and hours to suit your circumstances.

“This combined with the freedom to choose your clients and areas of specialty, they can build a successful travel business that works for them.”

Travel = Big Business

The TRA report publishes an annual summary of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) count of tourism businesses in Australia.

Its key findings this year revealed 358,277 tourism businesses were operating across the country as of 30 June 2022, which is 19,233 more businesses than the previous year. This means one in seven Australian businesses (14 per cent) operate in the tourism sphere.

Most of the growth in tourism business numbers in 2021-22 occurred in three sectors: retail trade services (up seven per cent, by 10,422), cafes, restaurants and take-away services – including pubs, clubs and bars (up five per cent , by 4,735), and cultural, sports and recreation services (up ten per cent, by 3,390).

Small and micro tourism businesses (1-19 employees) make up most of the sector (48 per cent) while sole traders account for almost as many (47 per cent) tourism operations.

Eighty-five per cent of the total increase in businesses in 2021-22 were non-employing tourism businesses, including home-based and mobile travel agency models.

New South Wales (117,781), Victoria (111,400) and Queensland (64,038) account for 82 per cent of tourism businesses in Australia, although all states and territories saw an increase in tourism businesses in 2021-22.