Australian tourism is likely to suffer at the hands of a strong dollar creating a serious trade imbalance said the head of a tourism lobby group.
A report from the Tourism and Transport Forum revealed that Australian outbound travel is forecast to further outstrip inbound over the next decade.
“The gap between international visitors to Australia and Australians travelling overseas is now forecast to be 1.2 million in 2010,” the report said.
Discussing the results of the report at last week’s Tourism Futures conference held in Brisbane, executive director of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Brett Gale, claimed the higher Australian dollar has contributed to the imbalance.
Speaking at the same conference, a leading economic forecaster said despite Australia’s short-term challenges, the long-term forecast is bright.
“Even if the Australian dollar does settle at a high level, which is eminently on the cards, it doesn’t mean that’s going to permanently hurt tourism growth,” Access Economics director Chris Richardson said.
“Over time you can expect world travel to grow because it’s a luxury and there’s a big number of people who are becoming more prosperous in emerging economies.
“The trouble is, Australia’s share of that is going to be very much determined by the Aussie dollar.
“You can have brilliant marketing campaigns and all the rest of it, but the Australian dollar rules ‘the dollars’ as far as travellers are concerned.”
Mr Gale said Australia’s tourism industry needed to better cater for emerging markets by making travel and tourism development easier.
"We need to cut through the red tape and regulation and we need to make it easier to come up with new tourism product, whether it is allowing eco-sensitive development in our natural landscapes or new hotels in our cities," Mr Gale said.
"The red tape gets in the way and we can’t offer things that overseas visitors want."
Both Brett Gale and Chris Richardson agree that it is the burgeoning wealth of the global middle class that will improve the outlook for the country’s inbound tourism.“The global middle class will triple in size in the current 25-year period and those are the people who will travel, Mr Richardson said.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A