What a year we have ahead.
Last year, China delivered us almost 1.2 million visitors – an increase of over 200,000, or 20 per cent, over 2015. This year, China will overtake New Zealand to become our biggest tourism source market and, following the recent aviation agreement between Australia and China, the potential for further growth is limitless.
But combining China’s growth with that of Asia’s other markets, the influx of visitors to Australia from the world’s fastest-growing region was almost 3.8 million in 2016, 46 per cent of our national total and over three times the number delivered by China alone. It’s great testament to our global marketing skills and our great tourism product that we have attracted such huge numbers.
The big question to face this year is: Are we ready for even more?
As important as China is – and it is forecast to deliver a massive 25.7 per cent, or more than one in every four of our visitors by 2024-25 –we need to focus on the collective growth of visitor volumes from Asia, or risk losing the opportunity we have worked so hard to create.
Investments by the tourism and transport industries will go a long way towards supporting the growth of the visitor economy. But industry also needs iron-clad support from governments to facilitate and invest in tourism, not only for the next year or five years or even decade, but for 20 and 30 years, and beyond.
TTF has been a vocal advocate of the need for a Future Economy Strategy to shape and support the growth of the industries that will deliver our future prosperity. That is going to be our key message to government this year – stop treating us like a ‘cash cow’ and work with us to invest in growing our visitor economy with a long term plan to meet our super-growth potential.
Just yesterday, we saw reports of an analysis by UBS that annualised tourism exports of $47 billion were greater than those two stalwarts, rural exports at $42 billion and coal at $41 billion. This is an industry any smart government should be backing.
Usually January is supposed to be a quiet month with Australians on their summer holidays but the resignation of Mike Baird as Premier of NSW certainly made it a lot more exciting than usual. That and the inauguration of President Trump!
Mike Baird has been a great friend of the tourism and transport sector during his premiership with a significant boost to destination marketing and the massive transport and visitor infrastructure investment that is being rolled out and funded by asset recycling of the State’s electricity assets. We wish Mike a prosperous and happy future in whatever his future career may hold for him.
Now we are being left in the very capable hands of Gladys Berejiklian who we have also had a long and very friendly relationship with as a former Transport Minister and Treasurer of NSW. TTF is looking forward to the opportunity to work with the new Premier and her team to continue to grow the visitor economy in NSW. As part of the Cabinet changes that were announced this week, TTF would like to express its appreciation to Stuart Ayres for his engagement with TTF as the Minister for Tourism and Major Events and welcome the new Tourism Minister Adam Marshall.
2017 – Here we come!