Travellers stay home

By MEL MARTIN

IT came as no surprise to Rob Cleary that a new report found Australia's domestic travel industry had been 'flat' for the past 20 years.

It's just more incentive to work hard to bring visitors to the Coffs Coast.

The report, prepared by Tourism Research Australia for the Federal Government and obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald, found that the industry had been 'relatively flat' since 1985, with domestic trips rising only 0.8 per cent per year, despite population growth.

While in 1985 Australians took an average of five domestic trips each year, last year they averaged 4.3 trips.

Holiday spending was also down from 16.3 per cent of household consumption 20 years ago, to 14.3 per cent last year, and the number of nights spent on domestic holidays fell by four per cent.

"It's reflective of all around Australia, and the Coffs Coast is in a similar position," Mr Cleary, the manager of Coffs Coast Tourism, said.

"And it's why we're trying to do more activities that focus on visitors from NSW ? like Sydney Weekender, an article in the Virgin inflight magazine, an e-newsletter, and 160,000 newspaper inserts that will soon be distributed ? as that is our main market.

"Like many industries, tourism goes through cycles, but we're in there fighting because it's worth $300 million in direct tourism spending to our region, and it employs many people."

The reason for this lack of growth, according to the report, is because Australians prefer to accumulate their leave or use it to look after their kids, and to spend the hard earned on more material products such as televisions and house renovations, as well as the rising costs of domestic travel.

Then, of course, there are the rocketing fuel prices.

So it seems the millions spent on promoting domestic tourism have not been overly successful.

Another report, released by the Australia Institute last month, found that the $245 million spent annually by governments on domestic tourism promotion and event attraction were wasted and of no benefit to Australia or its economy.

"Rather than enhancing the welfare of Australians, domestic tourism outlays by State and Territory governments serve only to enhance the welfare of an industry that plays State against State in the fight for a share of the domestic tourism market," the report concludes.



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