Lonely Planet Writer

Unique tourist tracking project rolled out in Tasmania

A unique tracking project is set to monitor every move and decision made by hundreds of tourists on their travels through the Australian state of Tasmania in the New Year.

Spirit of Tasmania.
Spirit of Tasmania. Image by Ian Armstrong / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Sensing Tourist Travel project is planning to track 600 tourists who will visit the island in January to see where they travel to, and more particularly, why they make spontaneous travel decisions.

The visitors are going to be hand-picked at the three major entry points to the island: the airports at Hobart and Launceston, and the Spirit of Tasmania, which sails from Melbourne to Devonport.

The study is looking for people spending at least a week in Tasmania, targeting in particular Chinese visitors – travelling independently of package holidays – and visitors from the rest of Australia.

The movements of the 600 will then be followed using a bespoke app that has been preloaded onto a mobile phone that will be provided to each of the visitors.

Midway through the trip, the group are going to be surveyed about their use of social media while on holidays and the reasons for any last-minute decisions they make to visit particular places or sights.

When their journey through Tasmania is finished, the app will also quiz them about what they did and how their experience on the island was.

Tourism has grown increasingly important on the island and now makes up 8% of economic output and supports a remarkable 20% of employment.

The tracking project is being led by the University of Tasmania for what may well be the largest ever such experiment in travel research.

“It will use real-time sensor-generated data to answer key questions about where different cohorts of tourists travel and how they make spontaneous travel decisions,” they said.

The researchers said the data would hopefully offer an “unprecedented insight” into the behaviour of travellers.

One destination sure to be on the itinerary for many will be the Museum of Old and New Art, which as Lonely Planet reported last week is set for a major expansion.