The Gap Looms Large for Australian Tourism Businesses

Press Room > 2022

Time, distance and cost in a post-covid era of travel have pushed Australia’s tourism industry back 20 years where, export tourism businesses are facing cautious consumers looking for minimal risk holidays closer to home.

While international travellers continue to view Australia positively, the reality of converting these intending travellers to Australian visitors is hampered by a complex mix of changeable and expensive air travel, visa application delays, global insecurity and deteriorating economic sentiment, which is impacting confidence to travel in the short term.

“Australia has always been at the top of the bucket list for many global travellers and our contacts are saying that sentiment hasn’t changed but what has changed is the urgency to travel here,” said Mr. Peter Shelly, managing director of Australian Tourism Export Council.

Mr. Shelley added with so many influences at play, the propensity to travel long distances has been dampened by concerns which lead many travellers venturing closer to home.

Despite a positive uptick in booking pipelines and Australia’s desirability as a destination, the reality he made known is: recovery is going to be much slower than anticipated due to distance and cost.

While many suppliers moved quickly and effectively to replace their lost market with domestic travellers during the pandemic, the size and strength of domestic visitation is in no way stated by the ATEC’s managing director, capable of replacing high-spending international visitors.

According to a survey conducted by ATEC, there is a widening gap between slowing domestic tourism business off the back of growing outbound travel, and inadequate inbound visitation to top up a growing shortfall, with nearly 40 percent of tourism product suppliers revealing their domestic business, has already slowed and that inbound is not closing the gap.

There is also a stronger return of Australian travellers heading overseas than visitors making their way to Australia, and this gap is bound to widen before any significant improvement.

The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer predicts United States and Europe recovering much faster than the Asia Pacific region which is still, well down on 2019 visitor numbers – highlighting a much slower return for Australia’s export tourism industry.