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Far North Queensland loses $2.2 billion of visitor spending

Far North Queensland loses $2.2 billion of visitor spending
February 21, 2021

Cairns Regional Council has advised that more than $2.2 billion of visitor spending in the region was lost last year as a result COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

A report to Council outlining Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s activities, presented last week, revealed that prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the region recorded 2.9 million visitors spending $3.51 billion for the year ending March 2020.

Notably, domestic overnight visitor expenditure in Far North Queensland grew to a record high of $2.6 billion in the March in the year to March 2020.

However, the impact of COVID-related travel restrictions resulted in an estimated loss of $1.6 billion loss of domestic visitor expenditure, along with a further $650 million lost due to international border closures.

The domestic visitor market is expected to underpin the region’s recovery, with domestic visitor expenditure expected to account for 82% of all visitor expenditure in 2021 (up from 68% in 2019).

According to the Australian Tourism Export Council, while some tourism businesses across Australia have seen an increase in revenues from domestic visitors, many regional and remote tourism businesses and supply chain distributors with a dependency on international markets remain on a knife edge.

Australia has traditionally had around 200 Inbound tour operators (ITOs) of varying sizes which support tourism businesses to connect with around 50 international markets.

Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director Peter Shelley notes that without them we are likely to see the decimation of the Australian inbound travel distribution ecosystem.

Shelley stated “ITOs have been the backbone of the export tourism industry, providing the conduit for millions of visitors coming to Australia each year.

“With the end of JobKeeper, international borders closed and no further support, 81% of ITO businesses will close and that will destroy Australia’s ability to quickly get back in the game once borders reopen.

“Thousands of Australian businesses rely on the economic activity delivered by international visitors and around half of those visitors have been delivered though international retail travel agents serviced by Australian based ITOs - we simply can't afford to lose their expertise, connections and experience.”

ATEC fears that country’s tourism industry is “at risk” without a replacement for the JobKeeper scheme - which is due to halt at the end of March.

Related Articles

20th February 2021 - Asset sales reduce Experience Co’s half-yearly losses as tourism operator

19th February 2021 - Queensland theme parks cut opening hours as guest numbers decline

18th February 2021 - Australia’s $45 billion export tourism Industry at risk without JobKeeper replacement

11th February 2021 - Tourism Australia launches new campaign to boost business events across Australia

2nd February 2021 - Queensland Acting Premier calls for JobKeeper extension to support tourism industry

1st February 2021 - Without JobKeeper Australian tourism businesses face ‘annihilation’

1st February 2021 - Queensland tourism industry anticipates Easter boost from Sydney visitors 

21st January 2021 - Australian tourism industry haemorrhaged almost $7 billion over the summer holidays

15th January 2021 - Queensland Government announces $200,000 in new funding for cultural tourism

7th January 2021 - Cairns’ Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to close as COVID-19 hits tourism business

21st December 2020 - ATEC welcomes Dan Tehan as Australia’s new Federal Tourism Minister

10th November 2020 - ATEC highlights that tourism exporters need JobKeeper support until international borders reopen

30th October 2020 - Cairns Regional Council endorses plan for Reef management

19th October 2020 - ATEC expands its program supporting Australian tourism exporters to attract domestic visitors

31st August 2020 - $11.3 million funding boost announced for Far North Queensland tourism

16th July 2020 - Queensland Government ends Cairns Global Tourism Hub process

10th June 2020 - Ferris wheel to return to Cairns for seven months

1st June 2020 - Queensland Tourism Industry Council welcomes further easing of COVID-19 restrictions

9th May 2020 - Queensland Tourism Industry Council welcomes recovery guidelines

13th February 2020 - Indigenous tourism in Cairns to receive new funding

12th February 2020 - Cairns tourism boosted by new international campaigns

10th July 2019 - Queensland Government commits $4.5 million for Far North tourism 

18th March 2019 - Cairns tourism industry leaders call for changes to marketing of Far North Queensland

12th March 2018 - Flooding hits Far North Queensland tourism


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