Tourism Australia says we need to take longer holidays to save economy while international borders remain shut
The nation’s peak tourism body says Australians need to extend their holidays so the industry can recoup some of the losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
A new report from Tourism Australia has unveiled $80 billion in revenue was lost in 2020 from international and State border closures, brought in to prevent the spread of the virus.
The research, scheduled to be fully released on Wednesday evening, found 84 million fewer trips were made in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the travel wipe-out sparked by Covid-19.
According to the report, tourism makes up 15 per cent of Australia’s exports; the lack of international visitors is a threat to the nation’s economic recovery and losing its competitive edge in the global tourism industry.
The report also warns international travellers will look to other destinations while borders remain closed until at least 2022.
“In Australia, we rely on international visitors because they are ‘high-yield’ – meaning that, though we don’t necessarily get a high volume of international travellers compared to other countries, the ones that do come have a significantly above-average level of expenditure,” an excerpt of the report said.
“This does make us vulnerable, as Australia’s position as a world-class destination for high-yield travellers is not guaranteed, and if our travel restrictions remain in place beyond those of competitor nations, our sector is in a vulnerable position as we are likely to lose market share to other countries.”
In 2019, international visitors spent close to $45bn within the Australian economy.
Despite a surge in domestic travel relieving some of the pressures faced by tourism operators, the report concludes Australians should try and extend their holidays to assist in the sector’s recovery.
“If Australians took, on average, slightly longer holidays, we could potentially make up entirely for the loss of international tourism with just domestic travel,” an excerpt of the report said.
“Australians need to travel more like international tourists – stay longer, spend more, disperse to the regions, enjoy our cities and enjoy the Australian tourism experiences on offer in destinations.”
On average, an Australian takes four domestic overnight trips and 10 day-trips every year.
According to Tourism Australia, the loss in international tourism revenue could be made up if, on average, every Australian added three extra overnight trips, to take a total of seven domestic overnight trips and 10 day-trips.
The metric also works if 17 additional day trips were added, meaning a person in a year takes on average four domestic overnight trips and 27 day-trips.
Minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan said the federal government has already announced more than $1.2bn in support for the travel sector, mostly in the form of discounted tickets which are intended to assist regional tourism.
“The best thing the Australian Government can do for our tourism businesses is to get tourists back spending money,’ Mr Tehan said.
“We want Australians to book a holiday in Australia this year, because every dollar spent on a domestic holiday supports an Australian job and a local business.”
Before the start of the pandemic, domestic tourism made up more than a third of Australia’s travel sector.
The report also notes 665,000 people are directly employed within the sector, however, the Covid-19 downturn damaged job security in the industry, particularly for younger people.
“Australia’s youth are suffering disproportionately from the loss of tourism, as tourism jobs are particularly important as an entry point to the labour market,” Tourism Australia said.
“People aged under 25 comprised approximately 45 per cent of the accommodation and food services workforce in 2019, compared to 15 per cent across all others.”
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