Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) briefed the Tourism Futures Conference in Brisbane about the upcoming challenges that Australia will face in the global tourism market.
The briefing addressed world tourism trends with particular focus placed on the role of Australia and New Zealand in the international community and their interaction with UNWTO.
For the first time in 60 years, international arrivals were down by 4% globally in 2009, with financial receipts also in decline by 6%.
During the discussion, Mr Rifai spoke about the challenges that global tourism faces on the road to recovery, and the fact that the public sector has experienced growth but the private markets have taken longer to recover.
Taxes introduced in other countries to balance budgets could also have a significant impact on travel to Australia, according to Mr Rifai.
An example of this would be the UK departure tax (£180-200 for two adults and two children to a mid range destination).
Mr Rifai also predicted that jobs lost during the economic downturn would be replaced by 2012/13 at the earliest and that the widening poverty gap would prove challenging for world tourism as poor communities in emerging economies are very dependent on tourism for income.
On the positive side Mr Rifai said that Australia is ideally positioned to take advantage of a rapid recovery in the Asia Pacific area.
However, he stressed that this would have to take place without the loss of Australia’s unique identity and with an eye on the long term goal of sustainability.
HMAA’s President, Garry Crockett asked how Australia could remain competitive in the future, considering its high wage and capital costs by comparison with Asia.“An all-round increase in tariffs is the only answer, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do given the competitive pressures from product offerings in Asia and other nearby competitor destinations.”
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F