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The national tourism outlook: address to the National Tourism and Events Excellence Conference, Melbourne

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Minister for Tourism

Martin Ferguson

The National Tourism Outlook

17 July 2012

National Tourism and Events Excellence Conference

Melbourne Cricket Ground

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Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address this important National Tourism and Events Excellence Conference.

I’ve been asked to provide you with the national tourism outlook.

Promoting excellence is key to the success of Australia’s $34 billion tourism industry.

In an increasingly competitive market for visitors, dedication to excellence and quality has never been more important to the success of Australia’s tourism industry.

Australia’s performance so far

We have entered the first half of 2012 with some positive trends.

Australia is nearing the six million mark in international visitors to our shores.

From January to May this year we saw, on average, more than 16,500 international visitor arrivals a day to Australia- some 3.1 per cent more than the same period in 2011.

The real success story has been Asia.

In the 12 months to May, there have been 577,000 Chinese visitors to Australia - an increase on almost 17 per cent compared to the 12 months to May 2011.

India has seen growth of 4.6 per cent and Indonesia 7.2 per cent.

We have also seen some positive signs from Japan, up 7.1 per cent, and the US up 3.9 per cent in recent months as the recovery from the tsunami and some more positive economic news makes an impact on visitor numbers.

Unsurprisingly, visitors from Europe are down almost three per cent lead by falls in our large German and UK markets and due primarily to economic problems across


In terms of domestic tourism, the latest data to March this year found that the number of overnight trips increased five per cent lead by business travel and visiting friends and relatives.

While this was a positive result overall, holiday travel nights fell one per cent demonstrating the challenge Australia’s tourism industry faces on the domestic tourism front.

What these figures tell us is that Australia’s tourism operators will need to cater to growing visitor numbers from China and Asia more generally in coming years.

The figures also show us that we have a challenge on our hands to increase our attractiveness to Australians and traditional markets such as the US and Europe who are being lured to Asia with the growth of the Asian tourism industry.

Importantly, the figures are a reminder that tourism is vulnerable to many factors outside our control such as the value of the dollar, world oil prices, natural disasters and overseas economic woes and growth in emerging markets such as China.

To deal with this, we need a tourism industry that is flexible, innovative and productive in order to overcome these challenges.

Ultimately it is industry which will deliver the quality and customer service demanded by tourists.

One of the best ways government can help support excellence and lift productivity is through our investment in skills and training.

Tourism Training Program

With an estimated 36,000 vacancies in Australian tourism businesses and difficulties retaining workers, Government and industry are working together through the Tourism 2020 Strategy to address skills and labour supply gaps.

Already, the Government is delivering Tourism Employment Plans across regions such as the Mornington Peninsula and Broome and six other regions experiencing labour supply issues.

These plans will develop tailored programs and strategies linking business to existing Government training, employment and other programs to meet local labour and skills needs for to the tourism industry.

The Seasonal Worker Program has been expanded to tourism covering five seasonal tourism regions on a pilot basis over the next three years.

Today I am pleased to launch a further important program focusing on training for tourism workers and helping tourism small businesses manage workforce development.

The new $8.5 million Tourism and Hospitality Skills and Workforce Development Project will help tourism operators remain competitive in a global market.

This program targets not only training, but also building better quality workplaces and workplace planning.

This commitment is part of the Government’s National Workforce Development Fund to support training and workforce development in areas of skills shortages.

The project includes an additional $1.7 million towards Australia’s Tourism Employment Plans.

This will increase their focus on training and education and their ability to target regional labour and skills issues.

A further $4.4 million will be devoted to a new advisory service to provide one-on-one help for businesses to determine current and future skill needs.

This will be of particular benefit to the 257,000 small businesses which are the back bone of the tourism industry.

Skills Advisors will benefit up to 2000 tourism and hospitality businesses assisting them to develop their own plans to develop the capability of their staff and capacity of their business.

A further $2.4 million will develop tailored programs that train employees to meet the needs identified by Skills Advisers and the Tourism Employment Plans and deliver approximately 1200 nationally accredited training places.

This project will assist employers to further invest in their employee’s performance to help lift productivity, profitability and deliver service excellence to local and international customers.


The future success of Australian tourism will depend on government and industry working together through Tourism 2020 on supply as well as demand issues.

We have an opportunity to add to the $35 billion in direct GDP and the 900,000 jobs the industry currently generates.

Tourism Australia and the state and territory tourism organisations are doing a great job of increasing demand by promoting Australia as an attractive destination.

Success on the supply side will help us deliver on the promise of quality we are promoting in these markets.

The new Tourism and Hospitality Skills and Workforce Development Project is one of many Government commitments that can help industry achieve this - I encourage you to make the most of these opportunities. Thank you.