Every year, millions of tourists choose northern Australia as their holiday destination. Northern Australia’s stark and contrasting natural beauty is a scenic drawcard for visitors and features diverse landscapes of: coral reefs, beaches, tropical rainforests, desert, lakes and mountains. The opportunity to observe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and participate in a cultural tourism experience also appeals to many visitors. Being able to experience northern Australia first hand is the lure of drive tourism and ‘grey nomads’, travelling in caravans and motor homes, is now a familiar sight across the north.
Despite these attractions, growth of the tourism industry across northern Australia is ‘not consistent.’ Some regions of northern Australia have experienced increasing visitor numbers and a lengthening of the peak tourist season. Parts of north Queensland, for example, have seen an uptake in visitation and investment interest over recent years. Uluru (an iconic destination) has also recently experienced higher than average tourism growth, with the Ayers Rock Resort experiencing ‘record occupancy’ levels in 2016-2017.
There are a range of untapped opportunities which have the potential to stimulate the growth of northern Australia’s tourism industry. Many wilderness areas located in northern Australia are largely pristine and, with adequate investment, may be developed into and marketed as premium ecotourism destinations. Infrastructure improvements in combination with the facilitation of private investment for national parks has the potential to expand the existing range and quality of nature based tourism experiences on offer in the north.
Please note: In 2014 the committee’s predecessor, the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, released its report Pivot north: Inquiry into the development of Northern Australia. That report can be accessed here