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This time is different: Australia’s tourist numbers may take years to recover

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (24.2.20) that, with Australia’s tourism sector hit hard by the impacts of bushfires and coronavirus, there are good reasons to think it may take a lot longer than in the past for visitor numbers to bounce back.

‘Australia’s catastrophic bushfire season has done immense damage to Australia’s tourist industry. Then, just as heavy rain began to bring the situation under control, came the coronavirus outbreak in China – now the top source of international visitors to Australia. Tourism from China, already greatly reduced, ended with the ban on non-citizens travelling from China.

‘The general assumption has been that, once the immediate crises are over, Australia’s tourist numbers will bounce back.

‘Optimists point to examples such as Japan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people, resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and forced more than 500,000 people to evacuate.

‘Tourism to Japan took a hit. International visits in 2011 fell 28%, to 6.2 million from 8.6 million in 2010. By the end of 2012, however, numbers were back to more than 8.3 million. Tourism to the devastated Fukushima region took a little longer to bounce back, but by fiscal 2015 had recovered to nearly 90% of numbers in fiscal 2010.

‘… There are, however, good reasons to think this time is different.’

The end of global travel as we know it: an opportunity for sustainable tourism

Freya Higgins-Desbiolles writes in The Conversation (18.3.20) about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international travel, and how this might prompt moves for more sustainable travel patterns in Australia’s tourism industry.

‘Saturday, 14 March 2020, is “The Day the World Stopped Travelling”, in the words of Rifat Ali, head of travel analytics company Skift. That’s a little dramatic, perhaps, but every day since has brought us closer to it being reality.

‘The COVID-19 crisis has the global travel industry – “the most consequential industry in the world”, says Ali – in uncharted territory. Nations are shutting their borders. Airlines face bankruptcy. Ports are refusing entry to cruise ships, threatening the very basis of the cruise business model.

‘Associated hospitality, arts and cultural industries are threatened. Major events are being cancelled. Tourist seasons in many tourist destinations are collapsing. Vulnerable workers on casual, seasonal or gig contracts are suffering. It seems an epic disaster – but is it?’

The TJRyan Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any information or material available on this website. The TJRyan Foundation reserves the right to change information or material on this website at any time without notice. Links from this site to external, non-TJRyan Foundation websites should not be construed as implying any relationship with and/or endorsement of the external site or its content by the TJR Foundation, nor any commercial relationship with the owners of any external site. Should any TJRyan research project be funded by an individual or organisation the source of funding will be stated beside the research report. In all other cases contributions are provided on a pro bono basis.
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