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Australian tourism suffers 99.7% fall in international arrivals

Australian tourism suffers 99.7% fall in international arrivals
June 16, 2020

Australia’s tourism industry has suffered an extraordinary 99.7% decrease in arrivals, the largest fall ever recorded.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Overseas Arrivals and Departures results for April 2020 showed just 2250 trips, with New Zealand the largest source country, accounting for 16% of all visitor arrivals, and just 720 short-term visitor arrivals.

Commenting on the findings, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director, Peter Shelley stated "this is the beginning of what will be a deep and protracted downturn for our export tourism industry and there is absolutely no end in sight."

April 2020 original ABS estimates for short-term trips show the number of visitors arriving in Australia for short-term trips in the month plummeted 99.7% since the same month the previous year, the largest decrease ever accounted for.

Shelley went on to state "(Coronavirus) has simply decimated our $45 billion export tourism industry which now faces a very difficult future with many businesses unlikely to last the distance while there is so much uncertainty surrounding the reopening of international borders.

“While JobKeeper is a critical part of the business survival package in supporting the retention of valuable staff, the commercial challenge of meeting the costs of fixed overheads over 12 months without revenue will be a bridge too far for many.

“It’s devastating to see so many small businesses effectively cut down overnight after years of hard yards carving out a profitable business, with many choosing to walk away because the mountain is simply too big to climb for a second time.

“While there is some relief for businesses who can connect to domestic tourists, for many tourism businesses who have built their strength on international visitation, the prognosis is dire.”

Visitor arrivals, short-term trips. Two years from April 2018 to 2020. Source: ABS

Explaining that ATEC’s survey of export tourism businesses across Australia suggests half of these tourism businesses will fail if borders are not opened in the coming six months, Sheeley added "domestic tourism simply won’t be enough to plug the $45 billion hole left by our international visitors.

“While most Australian’s will look to holiday at home for the foreseeable future, it can’t be presumed that those people who had international travel plans for 2020 will reinvest that budget toward a domestic trip.

“Consumer confidence, employment insecurity and budget priorities will all be major factors in the spending choices of Australians and travel is likely to be one of the discretionary expenses people choose to do without.

“These issues, coupled with the business costs of social distancing, will put many thousands of tourism businesses under enormous strain and many will simply choose not to reopen or will quickly fail.

“We can see from the ABS data that Australia’s export tourism industry has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the national economy over many years, bringing wealth to regional communities and providing a significant number of jobs - and all of this benefit has now been destroyed.

“The Government’s JobKeeper program has helped to support thousands of tourism businesses to hold on. We know most of them can remain viable once business returns, but in the meantime they will continue to need support.”

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11th June 2020 - World Tourism Organization provides global resources for industry restart

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9th June 2020 - Go with Tourism to sponsor tourism businesses and education providers for 2020 careers expos

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28th May 2020 - TTA keen for focus on Vocational Training Skills to be extended to tourism and hospitality industry

26th May 2020 - Call for JobKeeper underspend to be allocated to revive Australian tourism

26th May 2020 - Australian tourism industry requires ‘complete overhaul’ to succeed

13th May 2020 - UNWTO says international tourism faces worst crisis since records began

13th May 2020 - ATEC highlights the harsh reality of a tourism industry in crisis

30th April 2020 - ATEC part of new Tourism Restart Taskforce to strengthen industry COVID-19 response

22nd April 2020 - ATEC considers diverse and competitive airlines to be critical to Australian tourism

20th March 2020 - Australian tourism sector losing $3 billion a month as travel restrictions bite

6th March 2020 - ATEC highlights the ongoing threat of Coronavirus to export tourism industry

2nd March 2020 - ATEC remembers tourism innovator James Kwan

29th January 2020 - PATA anticipates one billion international visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific by 2024

17th January 2020 - ATEC emphasises the need for positive messages to international tourists

15th March 2017 - Asian markets drive surge in Australia’s international visitor arrivals

22nd January 2016 - 2015 International tourist arrivals rise 4% to a record 1.2 billion


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