The tourism industry continues to thrive, with total tourism spend reaching $122.9 billion in 2016–17. This is up 6.0% on the previous year and 20% since 2013–14, and was driven by substantial increases in overnight visitors. Growth in spend was widespread, with the majority of key international markets increasing during the year, and with very strong growth in domestic overnight visitors.
This continued growth in demand led to a prosperous year for tourism, which flowed into the Australian economy. Direct tourism Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is valued at $55.3 billion, an increase of $3.2 billion on 2015–16. At the same time, this monetary flow translated into 598,200 direct tourism jobs, or 1 in 20 people employed nationally.
While demand continues to flourish, there needs to be an adequate supply of tourism product to meet the demand. In February 2017, international aviation surpassed the upper bound of the Government’s Tourism 2020 strategy, which has a target of 50% growth in inbound available seats. Although the cessation of the ABS’ Survey of Tourist Accommodation means that the accommodation target can no longer be tracked beyond 2015–16, Tourism Research Australia (TRA) has estimated supply using data from the Tourism Investment Monitor (see Accommodation on page 20 for more information). Estimates show that as of 2016–17, this sector has also exceeded its Tourism 2020 upper bound target of 20,000 additional rooms.
Though these targets are valuable milestones, it is important to note that at $103.2 billion currently, overnight spend is expected to exceed the lower bound target of $115 billion by 2020, but has only tracked 47% towards the upper bound of $140 billion. TRA forecasts predict overnight spend will reach approximately $131 billion by 2020. While more needs to be done to reach this target, the outlook is positive, with more than $37.8 billion worth of infrastructure in the tourism investment pipeline, and continued progress towards streamlining access into Australia.