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Tourists not so keen on Australia

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Australia’s tourism industry is experiencing a shift in the balance of trade, with Australia now a net importer of tourism, according to new figures. Australia is expected to experience a spending deficit of $9 billion between 2010 and 2011, with more Australians spending their money overseas compared to amounts spent by international visitors to Australia. The deficit stems largely from recent changes to tourist travel patterns. The number of international trips taken by Australians is expected to outstrip the number of international arrivals by around 1.2 million in 2010, compared to an excess of 1.3 million international travellers in 2004. These figures emphasis the need to refocus on the supply side of the tourism equation, says Tourism & Transport Forum executive director Brett Gale. "We need to better cater for the emerging markets like China and India, whose tourists have different needs from Australia's traditional inbound tourists. They are less interested in lying on a beach and far more interested in shopping, sightseeing and cultural experiences." As well as encouraging international visitors to Australia, there is also a need for the tourism industry to address domestic travel, according to Gale. "While vital for attracting visitation from overseas, addressing supply side issues also has the benefit of giving Australians more to choose from. Enticing more people to travel domestically instead of taking their travel dollars elsewhere will help to address the balance trade deficit too," he said. "We also need a cohesive whole of government approach to tourism planning and prioritising destinations to maximise our return on investment."

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