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 May 28, 2001
Australian Tourism Exchange 2001- ATC Report Card

 The next six months will be challenging for the Australian tourism industry, despite forecasts of record international visitors and the global hype of the Sydney Olympic Games, Australian Tourist Commission (ATC), Managing Director John Morse said.

"This year a record 5.3 million international visitors are forecast to visit Australia, an 8.3 per cent increase compared to 2000," Mr Morse said. "However, this jump in visitor arrivals is not guaranteed. "We are operating in a tougher environment and the international marketplace is increasingly competitive. "On the upside, awareness and interest in Australia has peaked, holiday packages and airfares on offer are better value than ever before and the softer Australian dollar means that international visitors will spend more during their travels down under.

"However, global economic pressures are impacting on consumer confidence, particularly in the United States which effects potential travellers propensity to holiday overseas. " In addition, the slowdown and uncertainty in a few economies in Asia may result in declines in outbound travel from the region. And, at the same time there is fierce competition from holiday destinations world-wide.

"While these are factors are beyond the control of the industry, we need to take precautions and be proactive in driving holiday bookings to Australia. "Recent figures indicate that inbound travel to Australia is softening, and we expect slower growth in arrivals for the next three months and possibly for the remainder of 2001.

"Australia can not afford to be complacent and expect the Olympic Games publicity to deliver inbound visitors."

Australia's Popularity - An All Time High

Mr Morse said Australia was more popular than ever in the world's tourism markets following the publicity of the Sydney Olympic Games. "In the six months following the Olympic Games, international visitors increased by 11.3 per cent compared to the same time frame the previous year," he said. "The Olympic hype combined with the ATC's post Olympic strategies and competitive holiday packages and airfares have helped to drive visitors to Australia.

"ATC research shows that the Olympic Games publicity has also increased the likelihood of people travelling to Australia as a tourist destination. For instance around 50 per cent of American travellers indicated that the Olympic coverage had increased their interest in holidaying in Australia.

"However, the window of opportunity for Australia's tourism industry to capitalise on the Olympic Games will not remain open indefinitely. The industry needs to continue to aggressively promote Australia around the world to convert consumer interest into holiday bookings."

Market Performance

Mr Morse said Australia's five key regions have performed well for the year ending March 2001. "The Americas have recorded the strongest growth with 632,528 arrivals and growth of 18.6%," he said. "Similar growth has been recorded for visitors from Europe with 1,228,950 visitors in the twelve months to March 2001, an increase of 12.5 per cent. "New Zealand arrivals continued to grow with 12.3 per cent increase in the year ending March 2001 to 831,285. "Asia remains as Australia's largest tourism market with 1,280,497 arrivals, an increase of 12 per cent on the same time last year. "Visitor arrivals from Japan remain steady, growing by 2.6 per cent to 723,767 during the year ended March 2001.

Visitor forecasts

Mr Morse said international visitors to Australia were forecast to reach 10 million by 2010. "The forecasts show that Australia's key tourism markets will continue to strengthen with China, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the USA all expected to deliver 1 million visitors by 2010," he said. "According to the forecasts Asia will continue to be an important region for Australia with visitors expected to double in five years (1.4 million in 2000 to 2.8 million in 2006.)

Mr Morse warned that the forecast growth in inbound tourism had many implications for the industry, the wider business community and the government which must be addressed for the forecasts to be realised.

"We need to be able to get them here, to feed, provide beds and entertain as well as provide first class tourism experiences while they are in Australia," he said. "A national plan for our industry needs to be developed to ensure we can cater for the growth in visitor arrivals and at the same time continue to deliver tourism experiences which meet, and exceed, visitors expectations. "