From the publisher Bruce Piper Feb 2017

Welcome to the first travelBulletin for 2017. Every year in the Australian travel industry is exciting, and let’s hope the forthcoming 12 months will continue to see the sector flourishing. I do believe that despite ongoing disruption to traditional business models, as long as the number of people travelling globally continues its relentless climb, the travel and tourism industry must consequentially prosper.

On that note, however, the most recent figures for short-term arrivals and departures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics may indicate some gathering storm clouds, at least for the outbound travel sector. While inbound visitation to Australia continues to surge, much to the delight of the domestic industry and Tourism Australia, the November result for departures showed an unwelcome dip, leading to a downturn in the ongoing trend estimate (pictured). The seasonally adjusted figures typically bounce around from month to month, but the trend estimate gives a more accurate long-term picture — and if the December/January period doesn’t show its usual strength and reverse the trend, the figures may indicate a hiccup for the Australian travel sector.

However there are many positive indicators for a strong 2017 for the industry — not least of which is the unprecedentedly low cost of airfares. Intense competition between airlines means economy class flights to Europe and North America are incredibly cheap and must surely stimulate demand, while a number of canny operators are making the most of the situation by offering fly free deals. Several companies have made announcements in recent weeks about increasing numbers of guaranteed departures as travellers lock in their itineraries, and the cheap fares are also likely to stimulate last minute bookings. Let’s hope the industry can make the most of the situation and that in 12 months’ time we can look back on another great year.