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Australian Tourism industry needs to be more innovative to grow

Australian Tourism industry needs to be more innovative to grow ( Australia's tourism industry and the Australian Government need to be more innovative and invest further in developing new product and experiences for international visitor growth to lift significantly according to a peak industry body.

The Australian Tourism Export Council was commenting on today's release of the latest Tourism Research Australia International Visitor Survey, which revealed that 5.1 million international visitors came to Australia in the 2006/07 financial year, three percent up on the previous year.

ATEC Managing Director, Matthew Hingerty, said while the figures were positive, international travel was increasing universally and Australia was lagging behind the global growth rate of 4.5 percent.

Australia had also failed to lift its market share from around one percent of global travellers.

“The good news however is that the total economic value that foreign tourists inject into our economy has lifted by 10 percent to $22 billion annually," Mr Hingerty said.

“This is more than most export sectors with the exception of mining and it's time that the true value of foreign tourism is recognised by the wider government and business community."

Mr Hingerty said if Australia was to increase its market share government and industry needed to invest in attracting and retraining quality staff - particularly young people - and in developing new product and experiences.

“The ongoing investment in Tourism White Paper initiatives plus Tourism Australia's strategies to target longer-staying, higher-spending tourists is paying off but it's just one part of the mix," he said.

“We can't simply keep putting new marketing labels on the same product and experiences and expect visitors to keep coming or to come back.

“Nor can we continue to blame external factors such as the high Australian dollar, surge in low-cost carriers or competition from “new" destinations although all of these are certainly impacting on our market share.

“If Australia is to stand it out we need to be more innovative in areas such as targeting new markets and investing in educating and training young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs who will be the future of our industry."

Mr Hingerty said innovation did not necessarily mean a big dollar investment but could involve initiatives such as developing new products like health tourism, indigenous tourism and the inbound drive market and encouraging businesses to take a greater interest in the tourism education sector.

Reforms in areas such as tourism shopping to enable foreign visitors to claim back GST before they reached the airport and therefore have greater opportunity to spend their refund in Australia could also be implemented.

“These are all things that we could do tomorrow, that would require limited financial investment but could reap huge rewards," Mr Hingerty said.

Further information: Kerri Anderson - National Media and Communications Manager Ph: 0407 379 362 Email:

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