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Eco and indigenous tourism key for foreign visitor growth

( Developing indigenous and eco tourism product and experiences are the major keys to increasing international visitor growth over the next decade according to a peak tourism industry body.

Managing Director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, Matthew Hingerty, was commenting on today’s release of the latest Tourism Forecasting Committee (TFC) figures, which revealed that 8.8 million international visitors were predicted to come to Australia annually by 2016, an average increase of 4.9 percent per year.

By comparison, Australians travelling overseas were predicted to increase by an average 5.2 percent to 8.1 million trips.

“The gap between the number of international tourists coming to Australia and the number of Australians heading overseas is continuing to close which means the true potential for growth lies in positioning Australia at the top of more foreign travellers’ ‘must visit’ destination list,” Mr Hingerty said.

“It is crucial however that as air capacity into Australia increases we don’t just have a ‘more bums on seats’ attitude that means once they step off the plane we don’t have enough places for them to stay and visit.

“If we are to encourage more visitors to come, and more importantly, to come back, we need to have the product and experiences they are looking for – not just in the traditional tourist destinations, but in regional Australia.”

Mr Hingerty said if numbers were to reach the predicted nine million mark up from the current 5.5 million annually, the industry would not be able to service them without investment in new accommodation, product and experiences.

“Only around 22 percent of international visitors to NSW and Victoria currently venture beyond the capitals, so there is huge potential to grow international markets in the regional parts of these and the other states.”

Mr Hingerty said the impact of climate change on travel decisions also meant travellers were increasingly looking for destinations that offered opportunities for them to offset their carbon emissions, or contribute towards improving the environment in some way.

“The top two reasons visitors come to Australia is to meet Australians and to see our amazing natural wonders,” Mr Hingerty said.

“We are well placed to capitalise on both of these by developing more quality indigenous experiences and eco product that appeal to an increasing global environmental consciousness.

“We already have some of the best environmental operators and practices in the world but we have not been as good at marketing ourselves as an eco destination as countries such as New Zealand and Costa Rica.

“The potential to develop these markets is enormous and both industry and government need to focus on these issues if we are to achieve the TFC’s predictions.”

Kerri Anderson Tower 2, Level 18, 201 Sussex Street Darling Park, Sydney NSW 2000 National Media & Communications Manager Email: Direct: (02) 8262 5501 Fax: (02) 9268 0457

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