A new tourism report released Tuesday shows that Australia’s domestic tourism was facing significant pressures in the 12 months to September 2008, well before the current economic factors came into play, Tourism Australia managing director Geoff Buckley said.
The new report, Travel By Australians, September Quarter 2008, presents the results of the National Visitor Survey (NVS) and provides the most up-to-date information on travel by Australians.
Mr. Buckley said Australians took fewer overnight trips in their home country in the 12 months to September 2008 (down 4 percent to 71.5 million) but took more trips overseas.
“The report confirms what we have known for some time, that domestic tourism was doing it tough during the twelve months to September ’08 and this can be attributed to a number of competing factors,” Mr. Buckley said.
“These factors included a stronger Australian dollar, which at its peak was almost dollar for dollar against the US currency – making overseas travel a very attractive option. At the same time we had higher petrol prices which affected the domestic drive market.
“Clearly, in recent months we have seen falls in both petrol prices and the value of the Australian dollar which may help to lift domestic tourism. However, broader economic factors may also counter these positives.
“From a marketing perspective we are doing all we can to ensure that Australian holidays continue to be at the top of the holiday wish list.
While the number of domestic holiday trips fell by two percent for the September year end there were larger falls in overnight trips for business and to visit friends and relatives (both down by five percent),” Mr. Buckley said.
Australians also stayed away for fewer nights (down 5 percent) but spend on overnight trips grew for the September year-end, up 2 percent to $44.8 billion.
Other results of the report show that day trips were down 6 percent, while interstate overnight trips were down 2 percent and intrastate overnight trips were down 5 percent.
Over the year air travel rose 1 percent while the drive market fell 5 percent, reflecting the impact of higher petrol prices.
During the year ended September 2008, Mr. Buckley said domestic tourism contributed a total of $64.9 billion to the Australian economy.
“Taken with the results of the International Visitor Survey released last week, we know that the total economic contribution of Australian tourism, when international and domestic travel are combined, grew by 3 percent to $89.4 billion for the year,” Mr. Buckley said.
“While this is a fantastic result the decline in the number of people traveling is not encouraging. However, it is too early to tell if these trends will be long lasting given the current economic climate.
“As an industry though it is vital that we keep up our focus during these challenging times and do not turn our back on our markets.
“Tourism Australia has a number of initiatives in place to try and kick-start domestic tourism in the coming year including a new marketing campaign and the ‘No Leave, No life’ program to encourage workers to use their leave entitlements to take great Australian holidays,” Mr. Buckley said.