In Australia we live in an exciting, beautiful and safe country but with a decrease of 5 per cent in overall domestic visitor nights and a 2 per cent decrease in domestic spending (when compared with the equivalent 2004 quarter), the latest National Visitor Survey has been a wake-up call for the tourism industry, says Chris Brown, Managing Director of the Tourism & Travel Forum (TTF).
Although flat domestic tourism growth was expected, the decrease is worse than anticipated and there is concern that Australians are spending less on holidays and more on home improvements, household goods, education and investment. The household goods bought are largely imported so this impacts on the economy adding to Australia’s current account deficit.
THE BRIGHT SPOTS:
1)NT and Queensland experienced interstate visitor growth – air travel to Queensland increased through there was a significant drop in visitors travelling by car.
2)Tasmania had a small increase in intrastate spending.
3)NT experienced a small increase in both domestic visitor nights and spending.
REASONS FOR THE NATIONAL DECLINE, 2005
1)Higher levels of personal debt – Australia’s recent low interest rates make it affordable to buy property and other items.
2)Changing household consumption patterns – we spend more on technology, expensive household items, renovations & health.
3)Changing taste in transport due to discounting airlines & rising fuel costs.
4)Competition from outbound holiday travel – we prefer travelling overseas.
5)Changes to labour market – we work longer hours; there are more casual workers; we don’t take annual leave.
6)Busier & changing lifestyles – we focus on work & home, not travel.
Chris Brown is very concerned about the decreasing yield – Australians are taking shorter breaks and spending less. He says “It is imperative that State Treasurers further invest in their State Tourism Organisations to arrest this decline. The Commonwealth has invested in the industry )with the $235 million Tourism White Paper budget 2004-05 allocation) but we need a similar commitment from the State Governments.”