Tourism has been the good news story for Australia’s economy over recent years; 8.2 million international tourists visited Australia in the year to November 2016, an increase of 11.4% on the year before. Domestic tourism also grew 7% during this period.
Australia’s inbound tourism growth is almost triple the world average of 3.9 percent. Much of this growth came from Northeast Asia and North America, with China, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. among Australia’s fastest growing source markets.
Australia’s inbound tourism growth is almost triple the world average of 3.9%
David Beirman, senior lecturer in Tourism at the University of Technology Sydney, says this rapid growth is good news for the industry but has also revealed a few underlying problems.
Beirman says there is a significant shortage of trained and qualified people to service the growing number of tourists, and infrastructure in parts of the industry has failed to keep up with demand.
“Australia has not yet found how to balance tourism demand and supply of both human resources and infrastructure,” Beirman says. “If Australia wants to continue enjoying the benefits of its tourism boom, it needs to address these issues.”
The Australian Tourism Labour Force Report warned in 2015 that there was a shortage of 38,000 people in all areas of the tourism industry, and that if there were no major policy changes, this could blow out to over 120,000 people by 2020.
Beirman says there is an urgent need to upgrade and promote tourism and hospitality training at all levels of education.
Australia has not yet found how to balance tourism demand and supply of both human resources and infrastructure.”
He says there are three urgent infrastructure needs in the Australian tourism industry.
-A shortage of upmarket (4 and 5 star) hotel accommodations in Australia’s major gateway and business cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth) has been a contributing factor to a stagnant market in business travel for Australia.
-A sixfold increase in the Australian cruise market over the past decade has created a shortage of port facilities, especially in Australia’s most popular cruise embarkation and destination port, Sydney. Unless Sydney is able to offer a third dedicated cruise terminal soon, growth opportunities will be limited.
-A longer-term issue is the glacial progress toward a high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.
Beirman says both federal and state governments need to invest more resources in promoting tourism careers, tourism education and training at both the vocational and higher education levels.
“Tourism is a balancing act between creating demand and ensuring the supply of both human resources and infrastructure,” he says. “Clearly, there is still much to achieve to strike the balance.”
means-based assistance for young Australians to undertake training and education at nationally accredited training and educational institutions.
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