ATEC view: Strong product to benefit from weaker dollar

By PETER SHELLEY, managing director ATEC

There is no doubt Australia is an attractive international travel destination and we have a positive future ahead. The International Visitor Results in June show just how much potential there is in the market with international visitor spend up 10 per cent year on year to a record $33.4 billion.

As an industry, we also have some good tools to work with and we are fighting for those tools to be reinforced and upgraded. Things like the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which will help build a stronger overall trade relationship with our largest and highest spending tourism export market. This agreement is something that our industry has united on to defend from a campaign driven by Australian Unions that threatens its delivery.

A recent review of the 40 year old Emerging Market Development Grant program, a program that has supported thousands of Australian businesses to move into new export markets, has recommended an increase in grant funding – a move we support.

While Australia’s popularity as a destination flourishes and we are reaping the rewards of the well placed demand driver campaigns delivered by Tourism Australia and others, we need to continue to build the connections between product suppliers, distribution networks and marketing activities. Our export tourism success will rely on our collective ability to raise awareness, grow intention to travel, positively influence distribution channels and importantly, drive conversion – the most important metric in assessing our effectiveness.

Conversations with members support the key indicators evolving from ATEC’s most recent International Market Monitor which assesses forward booking sentiment. Their ‘on the ground’ intelligence suggests they expect a very positive year ahead and are experiencing growth across most markets, in some cases quite significant growth from both our mature Western markets as well as our growth markets of China and Asia generally, and also emerging markets especially South America.

As in all cases, in order for the industry to maximise its opportunities, it must be a collective effort between industry and Government and all policy settings must recognise the economic benefit of facilitating greater visitation and ensuring that we remove any disincentives to travel to Australia. These include Visa applications and processing as well as a raft of taxes and charges targeting travellers, through to efficient and friendly passenger processing at our gateways – all important considerations.

With the dollar now making Australia an even more desirable destination and encouraging further spend on the ground, we have much to look forward to as our Australian tourism export industry continues its growth path into the future.

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