Auschamber view: December 2017

John Hart, executive chair, Australian Chamber — Tourism

Time to reset the crystal ball on tourism

I will have the pleasure of sitting on the newly formed Ministerial Committee looking at tourism Beyond 2020.

With several years to run on the existing 2020 strategy, credit must go to the Federal Government, and Minister Steve Ciobo, for the focus on Beyond 2020 and looking into the next decade.

A decade ago when we looked at the 2020 targets, many in the industry thought they were too ambitious, and yet we reached them early.

Observing the pace of change and the level of disruption the Australian tourism industry is facing today, the task of looking off into the next decade is daunting to say the least.

Ten years ago, when 2020 was the topic of conversation, Facebook was just rolling out, Airbnb and Uber were virtually non-existent and the NBN was being debated as an election commitment by then PM aspirant Kevin Rudd. Yes, I guess we can say a lot has changed in the last ten years.

Australian tourism, like the visitor economy around the world, is deeply embedded in the transport, hospitality and retail structures in the economy.

Of all the sectors experiencing rapid change, transport and retail are certainly two that stand out. On the transport side, the advent, almost certainly in this period, of driverless cars will change tourism, starting with the reduction in the cost of connected transport and access to vast areas of the countryside.

If, by 2030, advances in technology will allow us to see the sensational view from the top of the harbor or experience sea life even better than at an aquarium, why visit these attractions? The answer must lie in the experience. Technology may be able to replace the senses of sight and sound but immersive taste, touch and smell activate a real experience.

The retail proposition is also changing dramatically. The move to online sales means that the retail experience too must shift to being experiential in order to compete. If shoppers are to be lured out into a retail environment, there has to be something worth seeing and feeling.

As we get closer to the end of this decade, it is time to reset the crystal ball and set our sights on the next big win for our nation — future tourism.

 

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