Continuing government investment in marketing and improving the visitor experience is critical to capitalising on strong growth in international tourist arrivals in March, according to peak national industry body, Tourism & Transport Forum(TTF).
The ABS’s Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures for March show international arrivals rose 8.1 per cent in March with departures by Australians up 8.4 per cent. For the year ending March, arrivals are up 4.9 per cent, while departures are up 4.2 per cent.
TTF Acting Chief Executive Trent Zimmerman said next week’s federal budget is critical.
“This is the first time international arrivals to Australia over a 12-month period have grown faster than departures since late 2003,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“It shows that despite challenging global economic conditions and the persistently strong Australian dollar, Australia remains an attractive destination for travellers from around the world.
“While some of the growth in March may be attributable to the timing of Easter, we have seen increased monthly arrivals from 16 of Australia’s top 20 source markets, including double digit growth from ten countries.
“On an annual basis, six of our biggest markets are growing by double digits: China (+17.4%), Singapore (+12.6%), Malaysia (+12.4%), Taiwan (+12.1%) and Papua New Guinea (+10.2%).
“With the federal budget coming up next week, it is vital funding for tourism marketing is at the very least maintained so we can build on this momentum, recognising the important role tourism plays as an economic driver and employer around Australia.
“Other countries have recognised tourism’s potential and have increased their tourism investment.
“Making it easier for international visitors to come to Australia will help us reach the Tourism 2020 targets of increasing overnight tourism expenditure to up to $140 billion by the end of the decade.
“The tourism industry is also calling on the federal government not to increase tourism taxes, fees and charges, after it raised the Passenger Movement Charge by 17 per cent in last year’s budget and announced an Airport Police Tax, which was followed by significant increases in the cost of Working Holiday Maker visas.
“Any additional costs fly in the face of industry efforts to improve tourism product and the visitor experience and to lift our competitiveness in a tough economic environment.”
Source = Tourism & Transport Forum