Value of Australia's tourism industry likely to top $100 billion
The value of the tourism industry to Australia's economy is likely to top $100 billion this year for the first time, research shows.
And domestic travel will prove resilient while the pace of overseas visitor growth may slow slightly, the research indicates.
The Tourism Forecasting Committee, an independent group funded by the Federal Government, has cut its estimate for the likely increase in overseas visitor numbers this financial year.
But the committee, which had forecast an increase of 1.3 per cent, still believes visitor numbers will grow, up 1 per cent.
In its half-year report released yesterday, the group also cut its estimate for growth in visitor numbers next financial year, from 3.3 to 3 per cent.
It cites the eurozone debt crisis, political upheaval in the Middle East and general economic uncertainty as threats to the growth rate.
Six million visitors are nonetheless expected this financial year, and 6.1 million next year.
Tourism will tip $100.1 billion into the Australian economy in the year to June, the report predicts, up from about $98 billion a year earlier.
The number of Australians heading offshore will exceed the number of inbound visitors, climbing 7.8 per cent to 8 million this financial year, then climbing a further 6.6 per cent to 8.6 million next year.
Committee head and demographer Bernard Salt said the forecasts indicated the industry was resilient.
Australians were spending more on family holidays to Bali, Thailand or Hawaii while leaving domestic tourism for short breaks, Mr Salt said.
"Melburnians, Victorians, holiday differently, with short breaks and long weekends where they enjoy themselves with fine dining, and the holiday industry is starting to adapt," he said.
Mr Salt said Asia continued to be the growth engine for Australian tourism, with inbound arrivals from Asian countries predicted to grow from 41 per cent of all foreign arrivals to 45 per cent by 2021.
"China and Indonesia are the markets forecast to perform most strongly in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and that growth from Asia more broadly is expected to offset continued softness in travel ... from European markets," he said.