Beyond back to the future
By Peter Shelley, Managing Director, Australian Tourism Export Council
AS WE are witnessing across industries and across the globe, COVID has decimated supply chains and this has left a wake of havoc as systems attempt to reboot, hindered by a loss of skilled staff, high fuel prices, the war in the Ukraine, …the list goes on.
The inbound tourism industry is seeing an equally haphazard restart as international travellers continue to be cautious, airlines are yet to resume at full capacity, airports continue to struggle with the processing of passengers (and finding your bag) and governments grapple with vaccination requirements, bureaucratic sloth and economic pressures.
As we rebuild, one of the questions we ask is when will we return to the glory days, back when our inbound visitor numbers surpassed 9 million and our revenue nudged $45 billion? The truth is, there is no back to the future. The industry we left in 2019 is vastly different and our businesses will now have a vastly different approach to their operations. What we knew about our inbound industry, which had developed a highly effective distribution system over half a century, has now been cracked open and businesses have had to diversify to other markets (like domestic) in the short term and are now turning their efforts back to rebuilding ‘lost’ international commercial trade relationships.
In a massively competitive global tourism market, Australian export tourism businesses rely on valuable in-country trade contacts to distribute, promote and sell their products to potential visitors. Right now, many in our industry will be on the road, visiting their key international markets and working to rebuild these connections. But the flow of inbound visitors remains slow and while forward bookings are growing, the rate of growth is less than anticipated.
At the same time, we are hearing more and more that the much-needed covid-relieving domestic tourism business is starting to slow down with a very clear “outbound” trend these past few weeks as Aussies revert back to taking overseas trips. Given this gap between Australians travelling outbound and the lag in the recovery of our inbound volumes is growing, it is important that tourism suppliers invest in rebuilding their inbound business to ensure a balanced inbound/domestic market mix once the domestic ‘bubble’ bursts.
With this clear shift, it is important tourism operators look forward and consider where they might be in a few years’ time. While we have spent the past 2 years scrambling to find solutions to very unusual and immediate challenges, we must now work to grow a diverse market mix which will provide for a sustainable business base longer term.
As businesses consider their future, there is a need to invest in recruitment and retraining of new staff as the erosion of industry skills has been significant over the last two years. In recognition of this need, ATEC has built a range of new training solutions to help the rapid upskill of team members including specific training to attract international visitors from India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia & Muslim markets. These training programs have been designed to help businesses identify and understand new market opportunities, diversify and reduce dependency on singular markets. They complement the already popular Tourism Trade Ready training program which has been well supported by the industry for many years – the perfect tools to help get our industry back on its feet as we collectively focus on building for the future….
For more information go to: https://www.atec.net.au/