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Dim Forecast for Tourism Australia

By Ian Neubauer

International visitor arrivals to Australia are forecast to see no growth this year and increase only moderately in 20009 as a result of the soaring Australian dollar, skyrocketing oil prices and the credit crunch, the Tourism Forecast Committee (TFC) announced today.

The lack of growth is attributed to the decline in the Japanese market, with arrivals for 2008 forecast to decrease a further 20 per cent to 457,000. The TFC said the figure will stabilise at around the 400,000 mark in 2015 — representing a 51 per cent decline compared to 1997 arrivals, when a record 814,000 Japanese visitors landed here.

The Japanese exodus is forecast to be marginally offset by increasing demand from emerging markets, including India (up 20 per cent), the Middle East (up 14.5 per cent) and China (up 11 per cent).

The TFC and other industry groups are calling for new hotels, resorts and tour products to lure tourists to Australia. Tourism Australia is however undertaking a different strategy, investing the bulk of its budget in large-format marketing communication campaigns.

In 2007 the government body sunk $100 million into the now defunct ‘So Where the Bloody Hell Are you?campaign. This year it will spend a further $50 million on a new campaign linked to Australia, an upcoming feature film directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.  

Tourism export earnings are forecast to increase 2.6 per cent to $24.4 billion in 2008. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a decrease in real tourism export earnings of 1.9 per cent.