About us

Federation University's Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) Travel Research Network is a recently formed research group, focusing on applied and knowledge-based research into VFR travel.

VFR travel represents almost half of Australia's domestic travel market, and is also a major component of travel worldwide. Australia, through Federation University, is presently leading the world in research into this major form of tourism.

VFR travel definition

"VFR travel is a form of travel involving a visit whereby either (or both) the purpose of the trip or the type of accommodation involves visiting friends and / or relatives" (Backer, 2007).

This has subsequently been developed into a VFR definitional model (see below) to describe it visually, recognising that VFR is a complex phenomenon comprising three types of VFR travellers. Not all VFR travellers stay with the friends/relatives they have travelled to see. Sometimes they stay in commercial accommodation. In addition, not all VFR travellers will state that their main purpose of visit is VFR travel even when they are staying with them. For example, they may genuinely see themselves as being on holiday. This is why there are in reality three different types of VFR travellers. There are those who state a VFR purpose of visit and who stay with those friends/relatives. They are 'pure' VFRs (VFRs). Some VFRs will select commercial accommodation (CVFRs). Other VFRs will stay with their friends/relatives but state a purpose of visit that is not VFR (EVFRs).

Friends and family
Purpose of visit: VFR PVFRs CVFRs
Purpose of visit: Non-VFR EVFRs non-VFRs

Source: (Backer, 2012)

It is important to note that official data does not attempt to measure the size of VFR travel. It identifies the proportion of people who stated a VFR purpose of visit. It separately identifies the proportion of people who stay with friends/relatives. Neither statistic captures all VFRs and will underestimate the size of VFR by around 20% (Backer, 2012).


  • Backer, E. (2007). VFR Travel – An examination of the expenditures of VFR travellers and their hosts. Current Issues in Tourism, 10(4), 366–377.
  • Backer, E. (2012). VFR Travel: It is underestimated. Tourism Management, 33(1), 74–79. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2011.01.027