TTF View – October 2013


Ken Morrison As the mining boom subsides, the people boom
from Asia is just beginning

By Ken Morrison, chief executive, Tourism & Transport Forum


IN the lead-up to the federal election, TTF released a paper outlining a national agenda for the Australian Government. Called Australian Tourism: Backing Our Strengths, it positions tourism as an economic development strategy for Australia, able to help pick up the slack as the mining investment boom eases and manufacturing continues to decline.

Now this argument has been backed up by a new report from one of the country’s leading firms.
The latest edition of Deloitte’s “Building the Lucky Country” series is entitled Positioning for Prosperity? Catching the next wave. It identifies five super-growth industry sectors that will hold the key to Australia’s future prosperity and deliver an extra $250 billion to the national economy over the next 20 years. And tourism is one of those sectors.

In pointing out the need for new growth drivers, the report recommends looking at markets that will grow faster than the global economy as a whole over the next decade or two. Tourism is one of those areas expected to grow faster than global GDP by at least 10 per cent.

However, maximising this potential means ensuring we have the policies in place to support that rate of growth. While global growth in tourism is inevitable, work is required to position Australia to take advantage of this potential and allow us to grab more than our share.

It will not be enough to sit back and wait for the tourists to come. A proactive approach is required to improve Australia’s competitiveness and present a compelling value proposition to potential visitors.

With tourism now under Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, we see opportunities to ensure that Australia’s tourism objectives are aligned with our economic diplomacy. It’s also essential that we continue to improve elements of the tourism experience where our competitors have stolen the march on us. This includes visa processing, where other countries are investing significant resources in reducing red-tape and slashing turnaround times for potential visitors, especially from boom markets like China.

Another critical opportunity lies in aligning the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) scheme with our tourism marketing activities. More than a decade into the Asian Century, the list of countries eligible for WHM visas remains dominated by countries from Europe and the Americas. Of 28 eligible countries, just eight are in Asia. Of those, four have restrictive caps in place limiting the number of visas that can be granted each year while WHM visas are simply not available to young people from key source markets like China and India.

In addition, a coordinated whole-of-government approach to promoting Australia internationally will deliver a much higher return on investment. Promoting Australian trade, education, employment and investment opportunities in a way consistent with Tourism Australia’s activities could deliver a significant boost in interest and awareness of Australia as a travel destination.

With the potential for decisions across numerous federal portfolios to impact on tourism, we also support the establishment of a whole-of-government visitor economy committee to represent the industry’s interests and ensure each ministry understands the effects of its decisions on tourism.

While the mining investment boom is subsiding, the people boom from Asia is just beginning. And with the right decisions, the growth potential that offers to the visitor economy can help deliver ongoing prosperity to Australia in the decades to come.


TTF View appears quarterly.