|Australia's Domestic Dilemma – Structural or Cyclical?|
By Martin Kelly
Thursday, 16th February 2012
One of the big questions confronting Australian tourism businesses is whether the shift by residents to international travel over domestic holidays is structural or cyclical.
Many in the industry believe it is cyclical, that when the dollar falls so will demand for overseas holidays, which are now running at record levels. But others, including Tourism Australia, are not so sure.
According to the most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Australians travelling internationally in 2011 surged 9.6% to 7.8m.
The ABS believes tourism now contributes almost $35 billion – or $94.8 million a day – to the Australian economy.
However, while international travel into and out of Australia is strong, the domestic travel market is flat.
And that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
The latest National Visitor Survey claims the number of Australian domestic visitor nights for the year to the end of September was stable at 262 million. Domestic spend grew by just one per cent.
To an outsider these look like unsatisfactory figures but Tourism Australia’s Managing Director Andrew McEvoy says they are good after a tough 12 months marred by weather events.
He says the domestic industry has regained some momentum and that a number of key markets have reported improved trading over the Christmas holiday period.
Inbound visitors have been a strong factor in that, and Mr McEvoy believes they are the future for Australian tourism, not Australians holidaying in Australia.
The fact is Tourism Australia does not believe the domestic market has much growth left in it, maybe one or two per cent a year.
It’s why Tourism Australia is only allocating around 10 per cent to 15 per cent of its time, money and resources to marketing Australia domestically.
The reality is that it sees the trend toward overseas travel by Australians as structural, not cyclical.
International growth ex-Australia may slow but it will not go backwards.