The latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) shows that China continues to be Australia’s leading source market, with the number of Chinese visitors growing 14 per cent to 697,000 in the year to March 2014. Meanwhile, the latest results from VTIC’s own Quarterly Business Sentiment Survey have demonstrated the significant burden of wage costs on tourism operators.
The March 2014 IVS results also revealed strong increases in visitors to Australia from Malaysia (up 15 per cent year-on-year), Singapore (up 13 per cent), Hong Kong, Thailand and India (all up 10 per cent respectively). Numbers from Japan continued to fall (down five per cent).
Victoria experienced strong year-on-year international visitor growth (up 10 per cent) and expenditure (up 6.7 per cent), which was ahead of the national average as well as the NSW and Queensland results. The growth was driven by the holidaymaker market (up 13.9 per cent) and the visiting friends and relatives segment (up 17.5 per cent). Growth in business travel was relatively stagnant, while education visitors declined. This is a concerning trend as Victoria has traditionally been a strong performer in this space. In brighter news, however, visitors to Victoria from all core western markets – the UK, US and New Zealand – increased, as did expenditure by these travellers.
Strong growth from China continues to underpin Victoria’s international visitor growth, with the number of Chinese visitors jumping 16.2 per cent year-on-year to 341,100 and expenditure by this market growing 14.4 per cent to $1.2 billion. Chinese visitor expenditure now accounts for more than a quarter of international visitor spending in Victoria. The growth in Chinese visitors, nights spent and expenditure in Victoria all outstripped the national average.
Regional Victoria experienced modest year-on-year growth in international visitor expenditure (up 1.9 per cent), while visitor numbers and nights grew strongly (up 11.9 and 10 per cent respectively). Pleasingly, the expenditure growth in regional Victoria bucked the national regional trend, with a decline recorded in the national regional average. Regional Victoria also outperformed key competitors, and the national regional average, in international visitor numbers and nights booked. There was strong growth in visitors to regional Victoria from both eastern (up 19 per cent) and western (up 9.9 per cent) markets, with western markets recovering from a decline the previous year.
VTIC’s Quarterly Business Sentiment Survey
VTIC’s Quarterly Business Sentiment Survey also provides a useful barometer for how our tourism industry is faring. The March 2014 quarter results reveal that more than 80 per cent of respondents view wage costs as a moderate or significant constraint on their business. The cost of oil, fuel and utilities is also considered a key issue (with close to 60 per cent of respondents identifying this as a moderate or significant constraint).
These results highlight the importance of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reduce the Sunday penalty rate for the Level 1 and Level 2 pay grades under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. They also highlight the significance of the fuel levy proposed in the recent federal budget.