Not Melbourne or Sydney: Surprise city Australia's fastest growing tourist hotspot

Australia's most southern city, Hobart, a fraction of the size and population of the country's biggest, is among the nation's most popular places to visit for young and old, according to a new tourism survey.

The Roy Morgan Holiday Tracking Survey found 1.75 million people had Hobart on their wishlist, making it the county's fastest growing capital as a desired domestic travel destination. While Hobart overtook Brisbane (1.70 million) to secure the overall third spot as the most desired city to visit, Melbourne remained the most popular for travellers (with 4.27 million), a title it has retained for over a decade, followed by Sydney (with 2.39 million) in second spot.

Known for its natural beauty, Hobart has always been a favourite among nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. However, the arrival of the world-class MONA museum in January 2011 marked a new era for the city. In 2012, Hobart was named by Lonely Planet as one of the world's best 10 cities to visit in 2013. The travel guide book company cited the MONA museum as one of the reasons why it named Hobart as an 'emerging' city travellers should visit, also giving compliments to the city's food scene. There's an unspoken rule about making a Lonely Planet list, and Hobart was no exception.

Since then the city with a population of over 220,000 has continued to win over travellers with its impressive and diverse food scene that would satisfy even the toughest travel companion; there's the long standing favourite Smolt Restaurant in Salamanca Square that serves up modern Italian and Spanish-inspired small plates to share, and the minimalist style of Aloft that plates Asian fusion dishes with a modern twist.

One of the most remarkable features of Australia's second oldest capital city is its dense history. The city offers a lesson in Australian colonial history with historical site Port Arthur, less than an hour's drive from Hobart; tourists can deep dive into the drama, tragedy and triumphs surrounding Australia's territorial claim over Antarctica at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and trace the journey of Australian geologist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson who claimed almost half (42 per cent) of Antarctica for Australia at the Mawson's Huts Replica Museum.

Even with its charm, art and culture and top food scene, Hobart is not the destination of choice for all Australians. The Holiday Tracking Survey revealed Generation Y (those born between 1976-1990), Generation X and Baby Boomers are more likely to put Tasmania's capital at the top of their list now compared to two years ago, accounting for the significant 8.7 per cent growth in visitor numbers from 1.6 million visitors in 2015 to 1.75 million in 2017. But the city was not a drawcard for the youngest generation surveyed, Generation Z (aged 18+).

Findings indicated Generation Z was more likely to visit Canberra and Adelaide - both cities were more popular among the three youngest generations X, Y and Z, than they were among Baby Boomers. Adelaide and Canberra were the second and third capital cities which recorded the largest growth since 2015; an increase of 6.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

Capital cities Australians would like to visit in 2017

  1. Melbourne
  2. Sydney
  3. Hobart
  4. Brisbane
  5. Canberra
  6. Perth
  7. Adelaide
  8. Darwin