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Lead > Tourism
incurred by tourism operators,” Byrne says.
Mariani adds that regional airline carriers
were already facing pressures and the
viability of many routes would be called into
question and the regional tourism operators
would suffer from the fow-on effects.
ATEC has called on the government to offer
the same compensation granted to other
export industries that are also facing greater
competition as a result of the high dollar and
increased costs from the carbon price.
NEW ROUTES TO OLD DESTINATIONS
The tourism sector is often accused of not
developing new market propositions, Salt
notes. Queensland has not had a big hotel
investment since Palazzo Versace in the 90s
and many smaller operators are even yet to
get online with a website, let alone one with
“Perhaps it is something that government
should have looked at during the boom
times,” Salt says. “But government can’t run
the business for them.”
Salt believes that the government should
help the industry by doing what it is good
at: canvassing views and responding in an
operational sense by providing and collating
good and timely data that the industry can
He also warns that the tourism sector
ignores online at its own peril.
“Online has been incredibly important in
keeping the tourism sector innovative and
internationally competitive. Every business
needs a state-of-the-art online presence to
He adds that online research for travel
opportunities is not considered a chore but
actually part of Australians’ leisure time.
Australian online-only operators like
wotif.com have revitalised the sector and
turned a proft at the same time. Marrying
an online presence with social media tools
also ensures that satisfed guests provide
word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat
visits, translating into future revenue growth
Finding ways to speak to customers via
online channels and working with online
distributors has become a challenge for
many. “We were a pretty simplistic industry
10 years ago. The points of intervention
now have created a very complex operating
environment,” Mariani says.
But she warns operators need to fnd a
way to master these new ways of distribution
and make sure they have a fully functional
online presence. “The more deeply you can
be engaged, the better the opportunity to
engage with that consumer,”
Operators moving to online fnd that the
ability to quickly adapt to new technology
provides cost effciencies and better linking
and ongoing engagement to guests.
Hotels.com uses multiple channels,
including social and mobile, in order to
meet the evolving needs of consumers for
innovation and accessibility.
“Our free mobile applications for the iPhone
and Android have been very well received,
and help customers plan and book their trips
while on the move. The popularity of social
media as a communication and marketing
tool has also provided Hotels.com with the
opportunity to offer its customers exciting
online promotions and giveaways which have
enabled us to further reward and engage with
our customers,” Svanstrom reveals.
The rise of the online tourism sector also
opens up new growth markets. For instance,
don’t underestimate the lucrative power of
the devil-may-care traveler – the backpacker.
Australia gets an annual infux of around
580,000 of these always-online, sunburnt,
sandal-wearing arrivals, which represents 11 per
cent of international tourism arrivals each year.
The backpacker/youth sector contributes
$3.5 billion or 20 per cent of total
expenditure by all international visitors to the
Australian economy annually.
Despite their entrenched reputation as
having a penchant for sleeping in hostels and
kombi vans, these tourists actually spend
more per head while here than the average
tourist. A backpacker’s average expenditure
is $5901 vs $3297 for all visitors to Australia.
As a group they spend 41 million nights
annually somewhere in Australia, with the top
three groups coming from the UK (128,000),
Germany (62,000) and the US (54,000).
It is for these reasons that the ATEC
and Mariani strongly advocate that the
government puts measures into place to
stimulate this sub-sector of tourism.
“The government has a big role to play,
particularly in the backpacker and student
visa sector,” she says.
It is an area that is handled by the
Department of Education, Skills, Jobs and
The industry is pushing for the extension
of age limitation for a working travel visa from
30 to 35, in line with Canada and the US.
Mariana calls this demographic “career
breakers”, a group that take a break
from their careers before settling down,
immigrating or switching career path. “They
stay longer, their travel expenditure is high,
they contribute to the economy and they
might apply to stay,” she says.
Attracting international guests in
new ways is part of the innovation that
operators need to start thinking about for
future growth, she adds.
“The notion of the meandering tourist
does not happen any more. We need
to provide an experience as part of the
destination. We are a nation of great
landscapes and the cultural experiences of
Australia – particularly indigenous culture
– still has not been pursued effectively,”
Operators need to find a way to master these
new ways of distribution and make sure they
have a fully functional online presence
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