TTF view: September 2017

Margy Osmond, CEO, Tourism & Transport Forum Australia

With record numbers of international visitors flocking to our shores, domestic travel more popular than ever and visitor spending at an all-time high, it is safe to say we are currently experiencing a new golden age of Australian tourism.

The recent release by Tourism Research Australia of the latest domestic and international visitor surveys has seen the continuation of the tourism sector’s record breaking run, with our current tourism spend at a historic $122.9 billion, which is a very welcome increase of $6.9 billion on the previous year.

This is fantastic news for Australia’s visitor economy, with states across Australia reaping the benefits of the boom, led by Tasmania where an ongoing investment in destination marketing has resulted in a 14 per cent increase in the number of visitors and a 30 per cent increase in the amount they are spending over the past 12 months.

However, it would be a mistake for the sector to become complacent about these results. Hidden amid the showpiece figures are some early warning signs that the spending growth of international tourists is starting to cool, with the slowest pace of growth since 2012/13, and a drop in the average spend per trip from $5,264 in year to June 2016 to $5,159 in year to June 2017.

While more Australians are travelling in their own backyards than ever before, the Domestic Visitor Survey found a 0.3 per cent fall in the number of day trips taken by Australians in the year to June 2017 and a modest increase in day trip spending with a 2.9 per cent rise to $19.7 billion, which suggests that low wages growth could be starting to bite.

On top of this, Aussies are changing their type of break, with more people starting to lean towards taking an overnight trip to visit friends or relatives (6.2 per cent increase) than for a holiday (2.4 per cent increase), which could also be indicative of people watching their household budgets and looking to save on accommodation costs.

As the Australian dollar continues to rise, we can also expect to see more Australians pack their bags and head overseas for their holidays.

With these early warning signs starting to appear it is vital that governments at all levels must not take this growth for granted and continue to invest in measures such as destination marketing to ensure that our domestic tourism market can continue to grow and we can become the destination of choice for more and more international visitors.

Tourism is well and truly on the verge of becoming Australia’s next super-growth sector and with the right support our current record breaking run will extend well into the future.