Australia’s spectacular 2016 tourism boom
Australia is enjoying its best year for inbound tourism ever. The signs are that its attraction for international visitors is set to stimulate even stronger tourism growth. According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
International tourism arrivals to Australia between 01 July 2015- 30 June 2016 exceeded 7.8 million representing a growth of 12% over the previous year. However, based on two key performance indicators of destination success, average length of stay, (23 days) and spend per person of US$6,000 Australia ranks first in the world in both. It is little wonder that Tourism Australia staff are quietly satisfied with this year’s progress towards achieving its ambitious 2020 targets. Much of Australia’s inbound tourism growth is coming from China and other Asian countries. The growing middle class communities in Asia are clearly attracted to Australia and there has been significant growth in arrivals to Australia from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and India.
Of Australia’s traditional Western markets, tourism from the USA has experienced a strong resurgence over the past year. There have been a number of complementary factors at play which have combined to Australia enjoying its impressive growth. Low fuel prices have led to a either a flattening or reduction in air fares between Australia and the rest of the world. The introduction of low cost carriers services (especially between Asia and Australia) has made Australia a very affordable destination for many Asian travellers. The opening up of routes between a growing number of Chinese cities and Australian gateway points have helped to stimulate two way tourism between Australia and China.
Over two years of a lower Australian dollar than the period of USD-AUD parity in 2013 has meant that Australia, in US$ terms is 25% cheaper than it was three years ago. When factoring Australia’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination its impossible to ignore the fact that in a very troubled world Australia, relatively speaking, is an oasis of peace and tranquillity. One of the biggest factors attracting tourists to Australia is the perception that it’s a safe and welcoming destination for tourists. While no destination can take safety for granted Australia’s safety record is among the best in the world.
Tourism Australia and Australia’s state tourism bodies have been active and innovative marketers of destination Australia globally but have been especially effective in targeting and messaging key target markets. Tourism Australia’s Facebook site has over 8 million followers, more than any destination site on earth. Australian tourism marketers have actively recruited global celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen De Generes and David Attenborough to spread the word about Australia. Campaigns to highlight destination attributes such as Restaurant Australia, the Best Jobs in the World, Indigenous Australia and the current Coastal and Aquatic Australia campaign have all contributed to broadening Australia’s appeal as a destination. Australian tourism’s greatest challenge is to even up the number of international arrivals and outbound travellers. In the 2015-16 year 9.7 million Australians travelled internationally. Even allowing for those who travelled more than once it is clear than one third of Australia’s 24 million people are outbound travellers. Over that period there has been a significant growth in domestic travel.
Travel is and should be seen as a two way street and Tourism Australia, in common with most national tourism marketing bodies hopes to see a closing of the gap between international arrival and departures. Australia consistently ranks in the global top 10 as an aspirational destination. However the high level of aspiration is far greater than its translation into bums on seats and backs on beds. This year Australian Tourism is making spectacular progress but needs to keep its foot on the accelerator while the circumstances remain favourable.