Exchange rate still a concern, despite recent falls

Despite the falling dollar, the exchange rate continues to rank as one of the most pressing concerns for the tourism industry while concerns about taxes and charges on tourists have reached historic highs, according to the most recent TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey.

Peak national industry body Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Chief Executive Margy Osmond said “The TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey (the Survey) shows the spectre of the Australian Dollar looms large for local tourism operators. While recent falls have provided a much needed boost, it is clear fluctuation of the exchange rate breeds concern.

“The reality is Australia is a high cost destination and while the lower dollar will help keep our market competitive, we need to do more to encourage visitors to make the often long journey Down Under. Removing the Passenger Movement Charge, reducing visa fees and other tourism taxes would go a long way to ensuring Australia remains an attractive and affordable destination.

“It is pleasing to see that the benefits of the lower dollar are already flowing through to operators. Only months after the dollar has fallen, respondents are seeing more international visitors making the journey to Australia. They are staying longer and spending more while they are here.

“The benefit is twofold – as the cost of international travel increases, operators are also seeing improvements in domestic tourism.

“Importantly, the benefit is being spread right across the economy. Three quarters of respondents have seen a positive effect on retail shopping as a result of the waning Australian dollar and 71% also noted improved expenditure on visits to attractions.

“More than half of respondents pointed to positive results for visitor expenditure in discretionary categories such as entertainment, food and beverage, accommodation and tour packages.

“Also winning is the transport sector, with 45% of respondents citing improved visitor expenditure on flights, and 33% seeing positive trends in spending on ground transport,” Mrs Osmond said.

The Survey also found concerns regarding taxes and charges on tourists increased to historic highs, cited by 37% as a top impediment for their business – up 10 points from the same period a year ago.
Skilled labour remained on par as an impediment from a year ago, with 29% of respondents citing this as a key issue (+2pt). Meanwhile, the quality of retail offering surged in importance, up from 7% of respondents a year ago to 26%.

Around one in five executives also pointed to government support for business events bids, destination reputation, abnormal weather events and a lack of convention and exhibition facilities as key areas of concern.

The TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey is an independent measure of key industry themes and trends. The survey is distributed to senior staff within TTF’s membership organisations and other leading tourism businesses around Australia.