Australia is the sixth-largest country by geographical area and the smallest continent by the same criteria. It’s 7,692,024 km2 nestled between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. The country is neighbored by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor just to the north while New Zealand rests southeast of the region. Australia is comprised of states, territories and external territories. The six states are Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Sections of the continent were mapped by Dutch navigators in the 17th century, but it wasn’t until 1770 that Captain James Cook chartered the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain. From 1788, the British established penal colonies in New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia (“Australia in Brief”, 2016). Free settlers followed in increasing numbers, slowly outnumbering convicts. A colony made entirely of free settlers retired in South Australia in the 1830s. Queensland and Victoria split from New South Wales in the 1850s, when gold had been discovered in both New South Wales and Victoria. The gold rush brought immigrants to the area from across the world. About fifty years after, the six colonies united to form the Federal Commonwealth of Australia.
Today the country is home to 23.94 million individuals with almost a third of the population being immigrants born overseas (“Australia in Brief”, 2016). Despite its geography, being almost as large as the United States, Australia’s population is significantly less compared to the states in which 325.7 million residents reside.
The country is one of the largest producers in agricultural, mining and energy. Australia has one of the world’s most open and varied economies, with a well-equipped workforce and an extensive services sector (“Australia in Brief”, 2016). The backbone of Australia’s economy is its open and transparent trade and investment environment business-friendly regulatory approach and its trade and economic links with emerging economies, especially in Asia. Australia’s economy is considered to be one of the strongest, most sturdy and diverse in the world. It also stands as a global leader in five varying sectors: agribusiness, education, tourism, mining and wealth management.
Oceania, the geographic region that spans the eastern and western hemispheres, reflects solid growth in Australia and New Zealand according to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition (“UNWTO Tourism Highlights”, 2018). The same document reported that there were 8.82 million tourist arrivals in Australia during 2017, a 6.6% increase from the previous year. From 2007 to 2009 there was a very slight decrease in visitors traveling to Australia. Since then, the country has seen a gradual increase in arrivals. The top five countries that visitors tend to visit from are China, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore. This emergence of Asian tourists visiting Australia is due to the fact that there has been a noticeable growth in real household incomes in the region. China, in particular, is the second largest source of visitors to Australia and they tend to spend the most per trip. Chinese tourists are especially interested in Australia and within the past decade, the number of Chinese tourists has tripled.
Trends in international regional tourism activity differ between regions, where there are increases in regional tourism in some areas and decreases in others. Australia’s International Tourism Industry noted that between 2005-2006 and 2013-2014, visitor numbers in New South Wales increased by approximately 9%, whereas visitor numbers in the Northern Territory declined by about 35% (2016). There was also an overall decline in international tourism activity in Queensland both in terms of the number of international visitors as well as their expenditure in the region. This decline can be largely attributed to the plummeting number of visitors from Japan travelling to Australia, who have historically been an important source of tourism activity for the region.
Tourism in Australia’s National Economy
Australia’s booming economy is largely credited to tourism. The industry generates jobs, investment and growth in communities throughout the country. It’s probable that tourism may become one of Australia’s key strengths and a sector that is set up for monumental growth in its economy. Australia has competitive advantages in tourism through its close proximity to Asia, appealing natural assets, a generally safe environment, and the services provided by low cost transportation (“Tourism”, n.d.).
Tourism plays a significant role in Australia’s economy as it contributed 3.2% to GDP in 2016–2017, up from a 3.1% share in 2015–2016 (“Tourism Satellite Account 2017”). In the same time period, total tourism consumption increased 5.3% with 73% derived from domestic consumption and 27% from international spending.
Over the longer term, Australia will continue to have a high proportion of its visitors from the top five countries. Along with an increasing amount of arrivals comes an increasing number of receipts. Altogether, tourist receipts in 2017 totaled to $41,732,000. Spending trends are expected to continue over the longer term, with the 10-year average growth rate of 3.7%. Due to differing growth rates across the country, there will be substantial changes in shares for international, domestic overnight and day trip travel. By 2026–2027, the five largest inbound markets in terms of visitor spend will be China, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India, which collectively will contribute over 58% of inbound visitor spend (“Tourism Forecasts 2017”). China’s dominance is set to continue, and is expected to account for 46% of the increase in spend between 2016–2017 and 2026–2027.
It probably shouldn’t be surprising that a country the size of Australia would be home to some of the most interesting destinations and creatures in the world. Among the many iconic sites and landmarks you can visit in Australia are Ayers Rock and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. These are the two top spots that are most popular with tourists. However, there are also a vast number of tourist attractions in Australia that aren’t nearly as well-known but are just as impressive which incorporate both cultural and natural aspects to them.
Ayers Rock may also be known by its Aboriginal name ‘Uluru’. It is a sacred part of Aboriginal creation mythology, or dreamtime – reality being a dream. In fact, it is treasured so deeply by the Aboriginals, Australia’s indigenous people, that they kindly ask tourists not to take bits of rock from Uluru home with them. Tourists have returned to their homes not knowing this and have been known to send back the precious rock to return it to its natural setting. Uluru is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world and one of Australia’s most recognizable icons. The rock formation is a large sandstone rock formation in central Australia within the Northern Territory. It is the second-largest monolith in the world more than 986 feet high and 5 miles around. A little known fact is that it also extends 1.5 miles into the ground. Explorer Ernest Giles once described Uluru as “the remarkable pebble”. Uluru is an inselberg or island mountain, an isolated remnant left after the steady erosion of what was once a mountain range. Uluru is also often referred to as a monolith, although this is a somewhat ambiguous term because of its multiple meanings, and is a word generally avoided by geologists. The most remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at its bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics are what has led to its survival while the surrounding rocks were eroded. For the purpose of mapping and describing the geological history of the area, geologists refer to the rock strata making up Uluru as the Mutitjulu Arkose, and it is only one of many sedimentary formations filling the area.
The Sydney Harbor Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. It rests above the Sydney Harbor and carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbor, and the nearby Sydney Opera House encompasses an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia itself. The bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design. The iconic bridge took eight years to build using 53,000 tons of steel and 6 million hand-driven rivets. During construction, the two steel halves of the towering arch met in the middle of the span on August 19, 1930 at 10:00. Today, tourists have the option to walk, cycle across the bridge or even climb to the top with BridgeClimb Sydney.
There’s Nothing Like Australia is Tourism Australia’s global consumer marketing campaign (“There’s Nothing Like Australia”). There are a variety of focuses that this campaign has centered its marketing on. Since 2010, Tourism Australia’s global consumer marketing campaign has built a strong appeal with the youth market on a global scale. The latest iteration of the campaign builds on Tourism Australia’s recent Working Holiday Maker campaign but has a broader youth focus which highlights the most unique attractions and life-changing experiences for young travelers. On a completely different focus, food and wine has been another note-worthy appeal for an older segment of travelers. Tourism Australia has been showcasing the breadth and depth of Australia’s culinary experiences to international markets since late 2013. The initiatives focused on food and wine been well received by consumers and campaign partners.
Challenges of Tourism Development
While the tourism industry in Australia is booming, there are some impediments. One of the two most prominent has to deal with natural circumstances and the other is concerned with Australia’s native people.
Tourism is widely acknowledged as a key contributor to climate change, but it remains unclear how the tourism industry in Australia has been actively planning for climate change in practice. While often cited as a significant contributor to climate change, the tourism industry has a massive opportunity to play a very important role in reducing global emissions through national policy responses. As climate change will impact tourism destinations, there is a critical need for the tourism sector to adapt, minimize risk and capitalize on new opportunities (“Climate Change”, 2017). The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder located off the coast of Queensland and is a direct victim of runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. The tourism industry is accountable for the upkeep of the attraction. It has been noted that the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.
The indigenous people of Australia play a factor in tourism, specifically around culture. Although they are somewhat an attraction to the region, the group has almost no say in anything regarding the tourism industry despite their heavy involvement and participation. If Aboriginal-owned tourism is to develop in a culturally appropriate and commercially viable manner, Aboriginal perspectives on tourism must be taken into account by the Australian tourism industry and by researchers. They are the people of the land so it is only fair for them to have a say in their own territory (“Tourism and Aboriginal Australia”, 1998).
Some of the biggest challenges Australia will face in the coming years include but are not limited to increased oil prices, heightened competition, uncertain political environment and increased labor costs. Despite these challenges, demand is at an all-time high, economies are improving, airlines are investing in products, there is an increased focus on customers and there are more efficient flight routes available.