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 December 20, 2002
Australia: Flat Tourism Growth Signals Challenges Ahead For Industry

 New figures just released show that despite an increase in visitor arrivals for October 2002, compared to the same month last year, Australian inbound tourism is facing two consecutive years of negative growth. The latest release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Overseas Arrivals and Departures data shows that 3.9 million visitors arrived in Australia, over the 10 months to 31 October 2002, a decrease of 2 per cent over the same period last year*. When compared to the same period in 2000**, the year to date figures are only down 1 per cent. Commenting on the new figures, Australian Tourist Commission Managing Director, Ken Boundy, said flat growth in inbound tourism reinforces the timeliness of the Federal Government's White Paper for structural reform of the tourism industry, the first major industry review since 1987.

"The figures released today also highlight the importance of ATC marketing campaigns around the world in underpinning inbound travel, especially in regards to recovery marketing," Mr Boundy said.

"The past 15-months have been one of the most challenging periods in the history of inbound tourism and the figures released today need to be seen in the context of the events of the past year and the current operating environment.

"For the past year we have been working hard to address the decline in global tourism in market as a result of negative economic growth in some countries, S11 and Ansett's collapse.

"Feedback from inbound operators and airlines suggests that inbound tourism made a recovery in the final quarter of 2002. However, the industry is still facing challenges with dispersal, aviation capacity, and yield to sustain this trend - issues which the ATC will continue to focus on in 2003," Mr Boundy said.

Highlights of the latest Overseas Arrivals data:

* There were an estimated 428,900 visitors during October 2002, an increase of 13 per cent on October 2001. This increase has reduced negative growth for 2002 from 4 per cent (Jan to Sept 2002) to 2 per cent (Jan to Oct 2002).

Key Results (for the 10 months to October 2002 vs same period for 2001)

* USA - Visitor arrivals down 5 per cent
* UK - Arrivals up by 1 per cent
* NZ - Visitor arrivals down by 4 per cent
* Japan - Visitor arrivals up by 1 per cent
* China - Arrivals up by 17 per cent
* Korea - An 11 per cent increase in arrivals

Source: The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Overseas Arrivals and Departures, October 2002.

* This period includes positive growth following the Sydney 2000 Olympics as well the events of September 11 and the Ansett collapse which impacted on inbound numbers dramatically.
** The period including and immediately following the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.