Across the Ditch: Now is the time to ramp up tourism

Margy Osmond, chief executive of Australia’s Tourism & Transport Forum, on the state of Australia’s booming tourism market and why the industry can’t rest on its laurels. 

Margy Osmond

Across Australia, tourism continues to punch well above its weight.

The Deloitte Access Economics’ Business Outlook for June 2017 released this week is the latest in a series of reports that highlight the value of the tourism sector to the nation’s economic fortunes.

For quite some time tourism has been growing at about double the rate of the rest of the economy, helped by lower exchange rates, discount airfares and surging demand from Asian travelers, and our states and territories are reaping the benefits.

The future is certainly looking brighter in the Sunshine State following the initial and expected economic slowdown in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, with the Business Outlook finding tourism was benefiting from the lower Australian dollar, with international visitor numbers rising, and hotel occupancy rates edging higher.

However, nowhere in Australia is tourism playing a more important role than in Tasmania, where the sector is truly emerging as the cornerstone of the State’s economic revival. The report stated that “while many people’s attention has been focused on developments in the larger states, Tasmania’s economy has been quietly kicking goals”, underpinned by a staggering 30 per cent increase in domestic visitors to the Apple Isle in the past year.

Tourism is rapidly building a reputation as the Australian economy’s true success story, and it is very welcome to see the sector stepping out from the shadows and taking pride of place front and centre in any analysis of our economic future.

But with our dollar suddenly strengthening, making outbound travel more attractive to Australians and inbound visits potentially more expensive for overseas visitors, and amidst growing signs that rising fuel prices will start to push air fares back up, it is critical that we don’t rest on our recent successes.

Now, more than ever, we need to ramp up our efforts to sell Australia as a unique and great value-for-money destination, particularly in the price-sensitive boom markets of Asia.

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