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As global tourism roars Australia is stuck in 2nd gear

International visitor numbers remain down & ATEC is disappointed the $10m Gov support fund to help tourism businesses remains undelivered

As the industry marks 12 months of open borders, Australian tourism businesses continue to feel the drag of the COVID shut-down which brought $45bn of tourism exports to a halt.

While international travellers have quickly regained their pre-COVID appetite for travel in the northern hemisphere, Australia’s inbound visitor numbers continue to rise slowly and remain a long way off the peak.  

ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley

ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said: “While international visitor numbers remain down, so does business revenue and therefore government revenue and ultimately there is less impetus for investment and limited industry growth.

“With inbound tourism capable of making such a significant contribution to the bottom line of both business and government coffers, getting us back to market quickly has the added bonus of helping along the Australian economy.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics arrival numbers for December 2022 show Australia is still 40 percent down compared to the number of international visitors who arrived in December 2019.

“Last year the Federal Labor Government promised a $10m fund to support Australian tourism exporters to drive back into the market but today the fund remains undelivered with no word on when this industry will see the support materialise.

“We are disappointed this $10m industry support fund to help tourism exporters back to the market remains undelivered.

“There is no doubt we were late in returning to the international travel marketplace but we can clearly see our recovery is taking much longer than for our competitors in the northern hemisphere and even Africa.  

“With Europe already at 87 percent of its pre-COVID capacity, Australia has a long way to go which will be made doubly challenging for our industry given we are a long-haul and more complex destination making it more difficult for us to convert international holiday makers.”

Given the high level of competitiveness for the global tourism dollar, Mr Shelley said Australia’s sluggish return fully highlights the need for stronger Government investment in re-establishing our brand on the world stage.

“COVID brought Australia’s tourism exports to a halt and took with it more than 50 years of trusted trade relationships and engagement. Much of these are small to medium size businesses which have limited resources to restart however with a little support can bring Australia back to full capacity much sooner than 2025.

“Flights and staffing are key challenges for inbound tourism but we still have a great reputation globally and international visitors are keen on Australia. What we need to find is the key to unlock this opportunity.” 

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