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Double Trouble: Natural Disasters and high dollar take tourism toll

March 2, 2011
The strength of the Australian dollar and recent weather events have been identified as the factors having the biggest impact on Australian tourism operators, according to the latest TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey.
88% of respondents rated the strength of the dollar as a mid- or high-level impediment, while 86% said their businesses would be either directly or indirectly impacted by the recent flooding in Queensland and other states.
TTF Chief Executive John Lee said the recent extreme weather events such as Cyclone Yasi had also hit tourism hard, explaining "tourism businesses in Queensland already suffering from the misperception that the entire state was underwater are now dealing with the fallout from the cyclone, whether they were directly affected or not.
"While a number of destinations have unfortunately been devastated, many that were not damaged are suffering cancellations and seeing a decline in forward bookings.
"This reinforces the need for targeted marketing campaigns to reassure tourists within Australia and around the world that destinations are ready, willing and able to welcome visitors.
"The Federal and Queensland Governments have made a welcome commitment of $10 million to a Tourism Industry Support Package to get that message out, but it's also vital that there is support for capital works to improve tourist accommodation buildings and associated investment in furniture, fittings and equipment in areas hit by the recent flooding and cyclone.
"Investing in improved product has the double benefit of helping to attract international visitors as well as convincing more Australians to holiday at home at a time when the high dollar is encouraging record numbers of Australians to travel internationally."
The survey reveals that overall tourism performance for the final quarter of 2010 rose 10 points on the previous quarter (to 104, slightly above average), with expectations for quarter 1, 2011, down to below average (97 points).

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