A new study predicts that recessions in Japan and the United States will cause
Australia to suffer its biggest drop in overseas visitors in 20 years. Inbound
numbers are expected to fall by more than four percent as economic growth slows
in Australia's largest international tourist markets.
Tourism Australia, the country's travel
authority, warns that the global recession will damage the country's
multibillion dollar travel industry.
A new report says the number of
foreign travelers heading to Australia will decline next year to their lowest
levels since 1989.
The biggest falls are likely to be in visitors from
Japan, expected to drop almost 30 percent to about 407,000 in 2009. Tourism from
China will also stall as its economic growth slows.
"If you look at
countries that are particularly affected - the U.S., the U.K., Japan, New
Zealand - these are our big markets and they've been significantly impacted by
the global financial crisis. And it is no surprise that this will translate into
fewer visitors to Australia next year," says Bernard Salt, who is with Tourism
The study warns of significant job losses in Australian
regions that rely on the travel trade. That includes the dive resort of Cairns
in Queensland and many parts of the Northern Territory and Tasmania, where
tourism accounts for more than 20 percent of employment.
Australia's tourism industry is worth $62
billion annually and employs thousands of people.
To boost the faltering
sector, a new advertising campaign is starting, linked to the movie Australia, which stars homegrown performers
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
The film, a lavish World War II saga
directed by Baz Luhrmann, is Australia's most expensive movie. Government
officials say it is too early to tell if the ad blitz was working. It replaces
controversial government advertisements that used the line "So, where the bloody
hell are you?" to urge foreigners to visit Australia.
The language in
that campaign was considered offensive in Britain, where the commercials were
banned. The campaign met with a confused response in other parts of the world,
most notably in Asia.
Despite the grim forecast, Tourism Australia says
the market is well-placed to rebound strongly in 2010 if the Australian dollar
remains at low levels, consumer confidence rebounds and growth in aviation