Speaking at the Australian Tourism Directions Conference in Canberra, David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recognized Australia’s commitment to the promotion of travel and tourism, but attacked the carbon tax announced by the government yesterday.
Australia is now the seventh largest travel and tourism economy in the world and it is set to maintain this position over the next 10 years.
International arrivals are continuing to grow – and spending by international visitors in Australia has grown by around a third since 2005. The Chinese are now the highest spending inbound tourists.
David Scowsill said: “Australia developed forceful marketing campaigns with a focus on key markets such as China; it has put sustainability at the heart of its offering, and it has promoted open skies to encourage more airlines and lower air fares. It has one of the world’s best financed and politically supported public sector tourism structures, but it will need significant investment in infrastructure to keep pace with the long-term growth of tourism.”
However, while Australia can be seen as a successful example of sustainable tourism growth there are some challenges ahead.
The short- to medium-term outlook for the economies in the western world is not ideal. Continued weakness in demand in Europe and North America will affect some of Australia’s key markets – Europe and USA still account for around 20% of international visitors and 22% of spending. The Japanese inbound market still has not recovered from the 2005 drop-off, but fortunately the Chinese market continues to grow.
To sustain the current growth in Australia’s travel and tourism industry, the government needs to understand the intense pressure brought to bear on the industry by the imposition of ever-increasing and ever-diversified forms of taxation. The new carbon tax that the government is imposing will undoubtedly have a negative effect on the country’s travel and tourism industry.
David concluded: “Taxes should not be imposed purely as a revenue-generating exercise for the central government. The Australian government already makes $650 million per annum from the Passenger Movement Charge of $47 per passenger. It seems counter-productive to unilaterally impose a carbon tax as an additional burden to the industry, as it will mean inevitable price rises for consumers and a consequential dampening of demand for travel. I urge the government to think very seriously about an initiative which would prove damaging to its travel and tourism industry and the wider economy.”