The growth in international tourists visiting Victoria is great news for our industry, with very encouraging signs for regional destinations, but there are still areas for improvement. The number of international visitors to Victoria grew 5.5 per cent in the year ending March 2012, the strongest growth of any state, while there was an almost 20 per cent jump in international tourist expenditure in regional Victoria.
The growth in visitation, length of stay and expenditure in the regions is especially pleasing and confirms the range of attractive activities and experiences across the state.
The results, revealed in the latest International Visitor Survey, were fuelled by large growth in visitors from eastern markets, including China, Taiwan, Korea and Indonesia. Victoria was also the only state to achieve an increase in visitors from Japan.
It’s fantastic news that visitors from these rapidly growing markets are viewing Victoria as an attractive holiday and business event destination, and are broadening their experience beyond Melbourne.
It is concerning, however, that the dispersal is uneven. Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs, and Phillip Island all recorded solid year-on-year growth. Meanwhile, the Grampians and the Mornington Peninsula recorded declines. Even the Great Ocean Road, a traditionally popular destination for international visitors, experienced a slight decline year-on-year. This should not be perceived as a criticism of any one destination, but rather an opportunity to lobby for the additional resources our industry needs to ensure that visitors are dispersed evenly and that our industry grows sustainably. We need to address this situation.
We also note the decline in visitors from western destinations, largely due to economic woes in western Europe. This is reflected in the decrease in backpacker visitors across the country, including Victoria. There was also a decline in education visitors to Victoria, while this market grew in New South Wales and Queensland. Victoria’s previous strength in attracting international students is now weakening and greater coordination across both the education and tourism sectors is required to reverse this trend.
Also this month, VTIC has welcomed the launch of the latest phase of Tourism Australia’s global marketing campaign, ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, in China. We’re looking forward to industry being as involved in this campaign as possible and will be staying in touch with you about this.
We’re also delighted with the Federal Government’s decision this week to reduce future increases in the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC). Late last week, VTIC added our voice to a national campaign by the tourism industry to oppose changes to the PMC and it’s fantastic to hear that it will not be linked each year with inflation.