Opinion - Tourism in Tough Times

Written on the 5 June 2009

Opinion - Tourism in Tough Times

State Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor says the future of the industry as one of this city’s key economic drivers will largely depend on the Government’s ability to protect jobs in the sector. More than 216,000 Queensland jobs depend on tourism - 28,500 of which are on the Gold Coast.

THE State Government and Tourism Queensland’s priority for this year is the protection of tourism jobs.

I’m pleased to say we are now acting on our $37.8 million election commitment to strengthen the state’s tourism industry, with $36 million to be spent on tourism marketing and product development.

Access Economics has predicted unemployment could climb to 8.5 per cent next year, which could mean 1 million Australians without a job. The Tourism and Transport Forum has warned that up to 29,000 tourism jobs could be lost if unemployment hits 10 per cent.

There is no question the tourism industry will be affected by this downturn. It is already feeling the impact and I know many are worried about the future.

Domestic and international visitor numbers to the region were slightly down last year and to top things off, the low Australian dollar, the Swine Flu outbreak and extreme weather conditions during key holiday periods have contributed to a slower industry. While some things are beyond our control, there are things we can do to protect and grow the industry.

In the short term, the Gold Coast will directly benefit from:
• more major retail campaigns to drive immediate sales to the industry;
• increasing the marketing spend in interstate and intrastate markets to encourage people to holiday closer to home;
• major whole-of-state campaigns such as Queensland’s Bonus Breaks, the more recent Queensland’s Hot Hits and Experiences campaign running from April to June;
• increasing activity in two potentially lucrative international markets – New Zealand and China; a new $600,000 marketing campaign is underway to lure New Zealanders to the Gold Coast.
• an increased push for visitors at major Queensland events; and
• a commitment to supporting smaller tourism operators, not just major ones.
We are starting to see some results from our recent marketing activities:
• The Gold Coast has performed exceptionally well in the Bonus Breaks promotion with thousands of extra room nights. Overall, we’re expecting the $1.3 million campaign to generate about $10 million in expenditure across regional Queensland.
• January’s partnership between TQ, Blue Holidays, Virgin Blue, Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast Tourism to promote Gold Coast holiday packages to the Sydney and Melbourne markets achieved $862,000 return on a $150,000 investment.
• And 2008’s Too Easy campaign to attract couples from interstate, netted a strong return for the Gold Coast, with 31 per cent of the nearly $3.5 million in sales coming to our region.
Tourism Queensland recently hosted a major delegation of influential Asian travel representatives. Last year alone, some 685,000 visitors from Asia travelled to Queensland, injecting almost $1.4 billion into the Queensland economy. Visitors to the Gold Coast from China, Malaysia and India are significantly up which bodes well.

Another important and lucrative market for the region is the Middle East and Tourism Queensland led its annual Queensland on Tour trade mission to the Gulf states.

Looking ahead, local industry is sure to benefit from this year’s Tourism Futures Conference being hosted by Gold Coast Tourism, Tourism Queensland and Tourism Australia in Surfers Paradise in August. More than 450 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia will come together to examine the global and domestic challenges facing the industry and new ways forward on issues such as online marketing, policy development, business events, consumer research and the major challenges and opportunities related to climate change.

A new long-term market strategy aimed at attracting more Indian tourists to Queensland looks like it’s paying off, following the announcement that the Gold Coast will host the 2009 India Mega Familiarisation in August. This will bring 100 of the most senior Indian travel industry to Queensland to meet with representatives from the Australian tourism industry. 32,000 Indian travellers visited Queensland last year, making India one of our fastest growing international markets, injecting around $90 million into the local economy.

The Queensland Government remains committed to seeking out and further developing these types of opportunities for the Gold Coast. There has never been a more important time for industry at all levels of government to work together.


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