Changing Australian leisure mobilities in the COVID-19 pandemic: exploring the role of automobilities

Gareth Butler, Gerti Szili, Cecile Cutler, Iain Hay, Udoy Saikia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect leisure mobilities globally. In Australia, the pandemic has radically influenced the mobilities of domestic tourists, with travellers subjected to dynamic and intermittent restrictions on both intrastate and interstate movement since March, 2020. This paper reports on the findings of a study conducted between June and July 2020 that explored Australians’ intentions to participate in tourism as COVID-19 leisure travel restrictions eased. It reveals that the participants sought to shift from modes of transport that involve high risks of exposure to other tourists, including cruise ships and air travel, to private, smaller-scale forms of leisure mobility such as cars and campervans. The paper draws from this trend to offer recommendations that champion both the experiential qualities of tourist automobilities and the positioning of private vehicles as temporary facilitators of safer mobilities that may also support wellbeing. These recommendations are afforded additional significance by the opportunities they imply for the stimulation of regional tourism economies severely affected by the unstable and volatile mobilities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-713
Number of pages16
JournalLeisure Studies Journal
Issue number5
Early online date25 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Self-drive tourism
  • automobilities
  • safety
  • COVID-19
  • Australia


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