$38.8 billion international visitor spend just scratching the surface

The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) has welcomed the latest International Visitor Survey which shows a record $38.8 billion spend (up 11 per cent) over the 12 months to September but this is only scratching the surface of the visitor economy’s full potential to deliver jobs and economic growth for Australia.

According to the latest International Visitor Survey by Tourism Research Australia, the Chinese market continues to record breaking growth with 1.1 million Chinese tourists spending $9.1 billion (up 18 per cent) and staying a collective 43.2 million nights (up 10 per cent).

International visitor spending grew by $4 billion over the past 12 months with four markets of China (35 per cent), USA (16 per cent), Korea (10 per cent) and Japan (7 per cent) contributing a collective 68 per cent of the growth.

“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,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.

“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.”

Ms 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 $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.

“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.”