Strong gains in international tourism should help Australia reach the lower bound of its Tourism 2020 growth target (AUD 115 billion per year) for overnight visitor expenditure by the end of the decade, according to Tourism Research Australia’s (TRA) latest Tourism Forecasts 2016.
More work will need to be done if Australia is to reach the upper bound of its tourism industry potential (AUD 140 billion per year) by 2020, the forecasters note.
With international visitors set to increase their share of spend from 31% of total spend in 2014-15 to 41% in 2024-25, and domestic overnight visitor spend continuing to grow, but at a moderate pace, total overnight expenditure is forecast to reach AUD 127 billion in nominal terms by 2019-20.
China is expected to contribute 43% of total growth in visitor numbers from 2014-15 to 2024-25 and 60% of growth in expenditure.
Other markets expected to experience solid growth over the next few years are Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, along with Australia’s traditional markets of New Zealand and the USA. Sporting events scheduled in 2017-18 will also see an increase in arrivals from the UK, Australia’s third-largest inbound market.
Strong growth in holiday travel – largely due to the lower value of the Australian dollar – is forecast to drive growth in domestic tourism in 2016-17 and 2017-18, with many Australians continuing to choose to holiday at home rather than travel abroad.
Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) chief executive Margy Osmond said the new forecast reinforced the message that the tourism industry is one of the key drivers of Australia’s future economic success and called for the re-elected Turnbull Government to back the industry with an economic strategy.
“Forget about Brexit and hung parliaments, Australia’s visitor economy is continuing to steamroll ahead with a strong growth outlook over the next decade,” Osmond enthused.
“Today’s report should be a catalyst to spur the Federal Government into action to move the visitor economy to the heart of its economic plan for the nation. Tourism is a serious economic driver delivering jobs for Australians and wealth for the country.”
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said the forecast showed the industry was well on track with an upward revision on previous forecasts and inbound visitation leading growth.
“These figures show China is a deep well of opportunity for Australia’s export tourism industry, with their rising middle class generating continuing demand for the foreseeable future,” ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley commented.
“China is growing at such a rate that it is now due to become our largest market by volume two years earlier than expected, on top of the double digit expenditure growth we already see.
“The rapidly growing Chinese middle class sees travel as an essential part of life and this is reflected in strong growth in aviation capacity as demand grows and Australia becomes more accessible to new areas of China.”
Edited by Peter Needham