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 April 16, 2002
Australian Tourist Commission Research Indicates Cautious Recovery

 The Australian Tourist Commission / KPMG Tourism Leading Indicators Study surveys 500 Australian tourism operators active in the international tourism market. The Indicators, to be released quarterly, monitor the performance of Australian inbound tourism. ATC Managing Director Ken Boundy said the research indicates the industry is continuing its slow recovery from the impact of September 11, with long-term prospects more buoyant. "While tourism operators are cautious about business performance over the next three months the outlook is brighter for inbound tourism in the longer term, with the 12 months forecast more positive," he said.

"Operators are expecting a small decline in projected international revenue (-1.3%) and forward bookings (-0.6%) for the June Quarter compared to the same period last year. However, due to the improved business expectations of larger tourism operators international expenditure is expected to increase by around $45 million in the quarter.

"The cautious mood was not uniform across the industry with businesses with annual turnover in excess of $20 million reporting much greater optimism for this quarter.

"There are signs that business confidence is on the mend and overall the results are promising given the tough period the industry has encountered in recent times.

"This is a clear indication that the inbound market has stabilised and is now expected to regain momentum in the coming months, however given this research we would not expect the market to rebound strongly until the second half of the year."

Mr Boundy said the ATC / KPMG study indicated that international forward bookings are expected to be stable, except for the United States. "Around one in three operators expect an increase in overall international forward bookings in the June quarter, while just one in five expect a decline," he said.

"Forward bookings for the US market are expected to decline by an average of 3.7 per cent for the June quarter compared to the same quarter last year, with one in four operators expecting a decline.

"Operators in the US market also forecast an average decline of 5.5 per cent in projected revenue - a greater decline than other international markets.

"Businesses are more optimistic for forward bookings from the UK and Asia, expecting a slight increase in the June Quarter. Around 24 per cent of operators expect an increase in forward holiday bookings from the UK, with 63 per cent indicating no change.

"Similarly, 22 per cent of tour operators expected an increase in forward holiday bookings from Asia, with 67 per cent indicating no change.

Mr Boundy said tourism operators along the eastern seaboard are expected to perform stronger in terms of international revenue and forward bookings compared to other states. "While international revenue is expected to remain relatively stable, operators in Victoria and Queensland are more optimistic," he said. "These states report the highest expected average growth in projected revenue over the June quarter, indicating a three per cent increase.

"Victoria is also expected to out perform the rest of Australia in terms of forward holiday bookings.

"Operators in New South Wales report a mixed outlook for the June quarter, with 36 per cent indicating an increase in projected revenue, and 18 per cent expecting a decline - the highest of any state.

Mr Boundy said operators in the accommodation sector were more optimistic compared to other sectors. "Operators in the transportation, tour operators and attraction sector reported an average decline in international projected revenue - while operators in accommodation remained stable."

The Australian Export Tourism Council will be releasing data from the ATC KPMG Tourism Leading Indicators on the business expectations of Inbound Tourism Operators.