Tourism slump heats debate on Australias future

By: Graham Gardiner


Tourism leaders discussed the outlook for the Queensland tourism industry at an industry leader’s breakfast held recently in Brisbane. In

Tourism leaders discussed the outlook for the Queensland tourism industry at an industry leader’s breakfast held recently in Brisbane.

In response to the Tourism Forecasting Committee’s prediction of a 4.2 percent fall in international visitors for 2009, Tourism Australia (TA) and the Federal Government joined forces to discuss possible initiatives to improve the State’s long-term outlook.

TA Chairman Rick Allert addressed industry representatives on tourism’s responsibility of maximising opportunities in a volatile market.

He says TA understands the hardships in the daily operations of business, and will navigate the unstable economy to protect Australia’s brand.

Despite the doom and gloom of recession, he says Australia is in a competitive position in the US and Japanese markets because of the exchange rate.

While overseas visitors are key contributors to the tourism slump, Australians feeling the pinch are also forgoing vacation spending.

According to research by global market insight and information group TNS, two in five Australians are cutting back on holidays at home.

In order to boost local enthusiasm, TA will also target Australians in their innovative marketing approaches.

‘No leave no life’ is a new campaign set to launch at the end of March to encourage Australians to put accrued leave towards domestic vacations.

Complimenting initiatives already under way by TA - such as ‘the best job in the world’ campaign - Allert says its initiatives will allow tourism to "weather the storm with a renewed base in which to build further".

To ensure the continuation of a national long-term tourism strategy, the Federal Government has supported TA by forming a tourism strategy steering committee.

Chair of the committee, Margaret Jackson, also spoke at the event and says tourism is a resilient industry that needs to steel itself against unforseen events.

The former Qantas chairwoman says previous policy focus was on the demand side of leisure, but stresses there are other levers available.

"Tourism is based on supply and demand. We need to focus on a rigorous economic framework," Jackson says.

In order to see local tourism through the global financial crisis, Jackson says all spheres of the committee and government must work together to transcend the short-term cycles of recession.

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