Backpackers to flashpackers: The new global travellers

The return of backpackers and budget travellers has sparked a renewed demand for hostel-style accommodation, but ones that offer a higher standard of technology and amenities that will cater for a new wave of travellers, known as flashpackers.

This is prompting investors and developers to look for properties that can be converted to support the rising trend.

Many of the assets are smaller apartment blocks that sit in prime locations, generally on or near to the beachfront, which can be repositioned as a hybrid between a traditional backpacker hostel or a budget boutique hotel.

This new breed of so-called flashpacker guests generally have a higher income than the traditional backpacker and look to stay longer and work as well as travel. They need high-speed internet and beach access.

One of the latest deals is on Sydney’s northern beaches that comprises 28 large accommodation rooms that can house up to 120 people, with views to Manly Beach. The Boardrider Backpacker and Budget Motel in Manly, located midway between the beach and Manly Wharf, has a mix of dormitories with vacant possession that can be redeveloped.

The Boardrider Backpacker and Budget Hotel in Manly is on the market.
The Boardrider Backpacker and Budget Hotel in Manly is on the market.

Peter Skerrett’s private family office Invergowrie Property is the vendor and has appointed CBRE Hotels’ Raymond Tran and Hayley Manvell to steer the sale of the property.

‘Flashpackers are similar to backpackers – they require cost-effective accommodation, but generally boast more disposable income.’

CBRE Hotels’ Hayley Manvell

The 1158 square metre dual frontage stratum is being offered as a going concern, offering significant flexibility for an incoming owner with a strong visibility given its high thoroughfare location. No price was disclosed, but similar properties have sold for about $18 million.

Property investment in the hostel sector has remained robust over the pandemic period, with more than $160 million in hostel asset acquisitions since 2021. This follows a $38 million portfolio of five YHA assets trading in 2020. Headlining these hostel acquisitions was the sale of Noah’s Backpackers Bondi in June 2022 for about $68 million.


CBRE’s Manvell said the shift in lifestyles and travelling post COVID-19 has seen the emergence of a new style of backpacker, known flashpackers and digital nomads, with a unique set of demands.

“Flashpackers are similar to backpackers in that they require cost-effective short to medium-term accommodation, but generally boast more disposable income and seek out strong internet connections, quality communal areas with food and beverage facilities, and a greater proportion of private rooms,” Manvell said.

“This flashpacker style of travel has soared by 131 per cent since pre-COVID-19, largely due to the return of international backpacker tourism with new norms, but also as more and more Australians embrace a hybrid lifestyle between remote work and domestic travelling.”

As with the hotel sector in general, the trend is that visitors are looking for more than just a bed and shower. They want a hotel stay to be an experience with a much higher level of amenities, and to be close to more interesting surroundings.

This is demonstrated by the so-called digital nomads present within city technology zones such as the YHA Atlassian Tech Central precinct.

Fuelling the demand is the rise in demand for Australia’s Working Holiday Maker visa program, which partners with 47 countries, with India, Mongolia and Brazil added this year.

With borders open, international flight routes increasing and significant support and initiatives from the Federal Government, WHM visa arrivals are now at near pre-COVID-19 levels.

The 2023 financial year saw about 224,000 WHM visas granted by the government, above that of pre-COVID levels, with subclass 462 grants sitting well above traditional levels at 46,100. These approval levels are a stark contrast to those seen during the pandemic, with only 97,000 total grants handed out in the previous financial year.

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