Growth across key Asian markets has resulted in a AUD$12.3 billion contribution to the Australian economy in the past 12 months.

Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, says the growth from the market has been massive and even higher numbers of travellers could be on the way.

“Australia’s tourism industry is currently growing three times as fast as the rest of the Australian economy, with tourists from China, Japan and Korea fuelling this booming economic activity,” he said.

“Spending by Chinese tourists now exceeds AUD$9 billion annually, which was the stretch target government and industry aimed to reach in the year 2020 as part of the Tourism 2020 strategy.

“While this target was reached four years early and annual growth from the Chinese market now exceeds 20 per cent, the Turnbull Government is implementing policies to drive this growth further.

“Just last week, the Australian and Chinese Governments settled arrangements for a landmark open aviation market between our two countries.

“The Korean market has once again boomed with tourists from this market soaring 29 per cent in the last 12 months. Spending by Korean tourists reached $1.6 billion in the last year.

“There are encouraging signs Japanese tourists are once again falling in love with Australia, with tourists from Japan jumping 22 per cent in the last year to reach a seven year high.

“Spending by Japanese tourists reached $1.6 billion in the last year. Japanese visitors accounted for 20 per cent of the total growth in international visitor numbers to Tropical North Queensland, outstripping all other regions across the country,” he said.

TTF CEO, Margy Osmond, has welcomed the latest visitor numbers.

“I can’t think of a better early Christmas present that some fantastic growth numbers for the visitor economy and with the right partnership between government and industry this should only be the beginning,” she said.

“Tourism is a super growth sector for the Australian economy, but we do need a positive economic strategy for the sector that seizes the massive growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific, while working to meet the challenges of the supporting infrastructure and workforce skills we need to take full advantage of it.”

Osmond said TTF has been critical of government policies that had increased the cost of travel to Australia through higher visa fees and increasing the holiday tax – Passenger Movement Charge – to $60 from 1 July 2017 and the 18-month long backpacker tax saga.

“TTF campaigned very hard with crossbench Senators to secure a five year freeze on any future increases in the holiday tax after the latest hike to AUD$60 that will come in on 1 July 2017. This is a $1 billion tax on travel and its growing each and every year and that has a cost on the visitor economy,” she said.

“We need the Federal Government to stop looking at the tourism industry as a ‘cash cow’ for fees and charges to be continually ramped up over successive budgets and work with industry on an investment strategy that grows the sector.

“If we cut the cost of travel to Australia, we will see the economic benefit of billions of dollars in additional spending from international visitors flow through the economy and that means more revenue for the Federal Government,” Osmond said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management