New record set for domestic tourism

AUSTRALIANS spent a record amount on domestic tourism in 2011-12, Tourism Research Australia's State of the Industry 2012 shows.

Total visitor expenditure hit $95 billion for the year, an increase of 8%, or $7 billion - the strongest growth since 2000-01.

And it was Australians spending more in Australia that drove the growth, rebounding from recent lows.

This sector was up $6.6 billion, or 10.7%, to $68.4 billion representing the strongest growth since the National Visitor Survey (NVS) - the source for domestic visitor expenditure - started in 1998.

The report, released on Friday, said the mining boom was a "positive force" for tourism.

The strongest growth was evident in visitor expenditure for business (up 17.9%) and employment (up 10.5%) travel.

Spending on leisure travel in Australia also increased, particularly for travel to visit friends and relatives which increased by 13.7% to $16.8 billion.

The largest purpose of visit segment, holiday, increased by 5.1% (or by $2 billion) to $41.1 billion.

Australia's international visitor arrivals increased by 1.2% for the year to a record six million, while revenues in this sector increased by 1.5% to $26.6 billion.

Strong growth in Asian visitors offset a fall in tourists from traditional markets like Europe.

The report card showed the tourism industry had improved on most indicators despite the lingering effects of the global financial crisis (particularly on the United States economy), Europe's sovereign risk crisis and Australia's high dollar.

But of concern to the report's authors was the sharp 23% (or by $211 million) decrease in Indian visitor expenditure, most of which was attributable to the $181 million fall in Indian international education visitor expenditure.

Domestic overnight visitor expenditure increased at its fastest rate, up 9.1% to $50.8 billion.

The report found most domestic overnight activity measures increased strongly, with domestic visitor nights in Australia rising by 6.7% to 284 million.

Domestic day travel also recorded rapid growth, with expenditure up 15.7% and trips up 8% compared to the previous year.

A record 168.9 million day trips were taken for the year.

The report also found Australians continue to travel overseas in record numbers, with 8 million outbound trips taken in 2011-12, up 8%.

Looking ahead, the Tourism Forecasting Committee (TFC) forecasts tourism expenditure will increase by 2.1% in real terms to $97 billion in the current financial year, then by a further 2% to $99 billion in 2013-14.

In the longer term, total visitor expenditure is forecast to reach $112 billion in 2021-22.

See the full industry scorecard here.

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