AUSTRALIAN tourism exports have delivered more than $350 billion to our economy over the past 10 years and a record $45.4 billion last year alone. This is export income Australia will not see again for a number of years, according to the Australian Toruism Export Council (ATEC).
“Today’s International Visitor Survey (IVS) results released by the Federal Government are a snapshot of where we were right before tragedy hit our tourism industry in January 2020,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“Remember these figures, sadly they are the best we will see for some time. Shift forward to April 2020 and we see an industry devastated by COVID-19 with mass job shedding, business closures, hibernation, dislocation of the export channel and an industry desperately trying to hold on till we get to the other side.
“While Australia’s domestic tourism sector may revive in the coming months, it’s likely international tourism will be much slower and longer to rebuild and our growth will be greatly handicaped on the other side.
“Australia remains a desirable destination and we have members who are still getting inquiries from international guests who are wanting to come later this year, the trouble is we just don't know if the borders will be open.
“We often go back to the horror of September 11, when every plane across the globe was grounded for just a few days. That was a disaster for international tourism, but now we are looking at an international travel lockdown for at least six months."
In a survey of 500 industry members today, ATEC revealed 49 percent of respondents believe New Zealand will be the first international market to re-engage, followed by China (26%) with traditional markets of Europe, the UK and US expected to be the last to return to our shores.
In the meantime ATEC has developed a whole of industry, integrated support package to help tourism businesses rebuild and come out the other side stronger and more capable of facing the new normal.
“A key feature of our program will be engaging the skills and knowledge of our Inbound Tour Operators in helping tourism regions to develop new tourism product for the international market.
“One thing tourism businesses can do during this hibernation period is to work on their business - most of the time they are focused on working in their business, providing service to their customers. We want to make sure these businesses are able to use this opportunity to re-skill for a new tourism marketplace.”