Margy Osmond, chief executive of Australia’s Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), on how that country is coping with its changing tourism market.
Our tourism market continues to boom with Overseas Arrival Data figures released yesterday showing that international visitor arrivals to Australia rose by 11.4% in the 12 months to January.
This is fantastic news for the visitor economy across the country, with international visitors continuing to view Australia as a world-leading holiday destination – and why shouldn’t they!
New Zealand remains our biggest tourism source market, delivering 1.35m visitors over the past 12 months. But for how long? The Chinese market continues to skyrocket, with 1.25m visitors – an increase of 17%. There is no doubt that China is well on the way to overtaking New Zealand as our biggest tourism source market.
While the figures from China are impressive, it is clear that the whole of Asia will drive our future visitor growth. Asian markets make-up seven of our top 10 source markets and delivered almost 50% of total arrivals in the past 12 months, with Japan and South Korea growing by more than 20%. Emerging nations such as Vietnam and Indonesia should also remain on our radar in coming months and years. The future is well and truly Asia.
Investments in the tourism, aviation and transport industries will go a long way towards supporting and managing the growth of our visitor economy. With a steady increase in visitor numbers, seamless border experiences at our airport and cruise terminals are crucial.
TTF has been at the forefront of advocating for new biometric technology and immigration pre-clearance on certain routes to reduce, or remove, queuing times and improve the border experience for passengers passing through our international terminals. Adoption of new technology will also improve airport and community safety and provide more precise security screening, making our borders more secure.
Investment in our public transport networks is also critical to growing our visitor economy. A public transport system that is safe, efficient and easy to navigate makes a significant contribution to the overall experience of visitors to our cities.
If you think about some of the most popular tourist cities in the world – New York, London, Tokyo and Paris – their impressive public transport networks are selling points in their own right. In a competitive global environment, it is time that Australia’s transport networks were viewed in the same light.
And finally, the Western Australian election campaign is over! Mark McGowan and WA Labor recorded a convincing win, having focused heavily on tourism and transport issues. TTF welcomes the election of the new government and also acknowledges the fine work of Colin Barnett in delivering for Western Australia over many years.
To ensure that WA tourism industry can reach full potential, TTF has called on McGowan to follow the lead of his predecessor and take on the tourism portfolio. The slowing of the resources sector means that tourism is now more important than ever to Western Australia, and having the Premier assume responsibility for the tourism portfolio will demonstrate the new government’s commitment to the sector.