ATEC: Focus needed on tourism’s trade imbalance

Tuesday, September 27, 2022


It’s a case of too many out and not enough in. While the world celebrates World Tourism Day (27 September) Australian tourism faces the tough reality that while we love to trot the globe, that enthusiasm is not being equalled by inbound visitor numbers with the latest data showing more Australians are heading for holidays overseas than visitors arriving.

“While it’s great to see Australian’s travelling internationally again, we need to ensure energy is also focused on rebuilding Australia’s decimated $45bn tourism export sector in order to attract high spending international visitors and ensure the industry’s balance of trade is making a positive contribution to reducing our national debt,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said today.

“More than 345,000 Australians returned from an overseas holiday in July compared to only 93,000 international visitors choosing to holiday here in the same month, a significant imbalance of 252,000.

“While we have seen increasing numbers of inbound visitors month-on-month since the reopening, the overwhelming majority of these travellers are visiting friends and relatives – a demographic which delivers much less economic value to our economy than a high spending international holidaymaker.”

Mr Shelley said the latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures data for July 2022 highlights the challenge facing our tourism export industry in bridging the looming trade gap caused by more Australians choosing to once again holiday overseas compared to the number of overseas visitors.

“While the number of travellers arriving from overseas to visit their friends and family has picked up quite quickly, the number of inbound holiday makers is still only 26% of July 2019 when close to 350,000 people arrived here for an Australian holiday.

“We must invest in the recovery of our tourism export sector to ensure inbound visitation keeps pace with the number of Australians heading overseas for their holidays.

“All levels of government and their agencies need to be pulling together to prioritise the rebuilding of our inbound holiday numbers with a focused effort on assessing and addressing impediments to holidaying here in Australia.

“As a sector which delivered over $45bn in value to the Australian economy a mere 3 years ago, tourism is an obvious key in our economic rebuild and one that requires very little investment to achieve a great payback.”

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