David Beirman writes in The Conversation (20.1.17) that, as Australia's fastest growing economic sector, tourism is long overdue for a level of government investment which matches its contribution to economic growth and employment.
'Tourism has been the good news story for Australia’s economy over the past year. The latest numbers show 8.2 million international tourists visited Australia in the year to November. This is an 11.4% increase on the year before. Domestic tourism also grew 7% during this period.
'Australia’s inbound tourism growth is almost triple the world average of 3.9%. Much of this growth came from NE Asia and North America with China, South Korea, Japan and the USA among Australia’s fastest growing source markets.
'There are a few reasons for this. Including a lower Australian dollar, record low airfares and a perception of safety in an increasingly unsafe world.
'But while tourism looks bright for Australia, this rapid growth has revealed underlying problems. There is a significant shortage of trained and qualified people to service the growing number of tourists, and infrastructure in parts of the industry has failed to keep up with tourism demand.
'If Australia wants to continue enjoying the benefits of its tourism boom, it needs to address these issues.'