According to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, a record 4.7% increase in domestic nights was enough to counter the weak inbound tourism market over the 12 months to June 2003. In contrast to expectations, total tourist nights spent in Australia increased by 9.4 million or 2.3%.
“A common misconception is that Australian tourism consists only of international arrivals. While they are an important sector of the tourism industry and represent strong future growth potential, at present, international tourism constitutes a minor proportion of the total tourism picture,” said Mr David Gibson, CEO Asia Pacific, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. Latest data from the Bureau of Tourism Research indicates that domestic tourists account for 94.6% of total visitors to Australia and generate 72.6% of total visitor nights.
In the face of current world events, Australia`s domestic tourism growth has been tremendously strong, recording 3.1% during 2002 and 4.7% during 2002/03. These rates are significantly higher than the 1.9% growth predicted by the Tourism Forecasting Council for 2003 and the most recent annual figure is the highest annual growth rate since the National Visitor Survey commenced.
The national picture is positive, but it is Hobart, Brisbane and Melbourne that have benefited most from the growing domestic market.
“After suffering from access constraints for years, the Tasmanian tourism market is now reaping the rewards of increased sea and air capacity. The introduction of a second ship sailing daily between Melbourne and Tasmania and the commencement of Virgin Blue flights in August 2002 together the an improved profile have led to growth in both international and domestic tourism over the past 12 months,” said Mr Gibson.
According to calculations by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, total visitors to Hobart increased by 15.2% and generated 24.3% or 828,000 more nights during 2002/03. And this growth looks set to continue, with the launch of direct Virgin Blue flights to Brisbane in October and the introduction of Spirit III sailing between Sydney and Tasmania in January.
Traditionally popular with visitors from Victoria, Tasmania has more recently broadened its appeal in the source markets of New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. According to Tourism Tasmania, particularly strong growth has been noted in the short break market (1 to 3 nights) from Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia and the touring market (over 4 nights) from the Northern Territory.
The domestic leisure market in Brisbane has also held up well over 2002/03, and, although international visitor numbers have not grown, at an average length of stay of 11.5 nights, they are spending longer in Brisbane.
In terms of hard numbers, a 15.7% increase in domestic nights and a 13.4% increase in international nights have resulted in an overall increase of 3.4 million or 15.0% domestic and international tourism nights.
“The drivers of this demand growth are the continued population growth of South East Queensland and the associated VFR demand, a strong conference sector boosted by the Rotary conference held earlier this year, attractive hotel packages and Tourism Queensland`s marketing initiatives which are resulting in solid interstate and intrastate leisure demand,” said Mr Gibson.
“It would appear that the global security concerns, domestic marketing campaigns and new hotel developments have stimulated the domestic tourism market in Melbourne, which currently accounts for over half of the tourism nights spent in the region,” said Mr Gibson.
During the 12 months to June 2003, domestic visitors to Melbourne increased by 4.5% to reach 6.4 million for the year. These visitors generated 20.3 million nights, which represents growth of 2.7%. Visitors come largely from Sydney and regional Victoria and are attracted by Melbourne`s strong events calendar, Tourism Victoria`s ongoing marketing campaign and attractive accommodation packages offered by newly opened properties, particularly serviced apartments.
As with Brisbane, international visitors are spending longer in Melbourne. Growth in nights spent by visitors from the major markets of UK and Other Asia has boosted international nights by 2.1%.
Overall, Melbourne attracted 2.4% or 927,000 more tourist nights over 2002/03.
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, the world`s leading hotel investment services group, provides clients with value-added investment opportunities and advice. In 2002, its success story includes the sale of 6,747 hotel rooms to the value of US$862 million in 36 cities and advisory expertise on 116,877 rooms to the value of US$17.8 billion across 170 cities. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels` services include transactions, mergers and acquisitions, financial advice and capital raising, valuation and appraisal, asset management, strategic planning, operator assessment and selection and industry research. Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL) is the world`s leading real estate services and investment management firm, operating across more than 100 key markets on five continents.