‘THERE will be good times again’ – that’s the message Tourism Queensland (TQ) CEO Anthony Hayes has delivered to a forum for tourism operators on the Gold Coast.
Hayes conceded the last six months have been ‘dreadful’ for the state’s tourism sector, but says the focus must turn away from short-term stimulus to long-term growth.
“There will always be hiccups along the way and challenges as we’ve just been through, but there will be growth; there will be good times again,” he says.
“The main thing is to make sure that we are capitalising on the growth opportunity that will be there again.
“For the last 12 months everything has been very short-term, we’ve been so focused on ‘what’s going to fix whatever the latest disaster is’. But we’ve now got a chance to step back and assess ‘are we heading in the right long-term direction’.
“We have to ask where we will be in five years time and make sure that our strategy overall is exactly right to get us to where we need to get to.”
The Tourism Forecasting Council is forecasting organic industry growth of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent between now and 2020, boosting total annual expenditure across the country from $70 billion to around $90 billion.
But Hayes says it’s not good enough and is urging operators to take a proactive approach to exceeding forecasted figures.
“Growth will come, it’s a given. (But) three and a half per cent, I would argue, is not good enough,” he says.
“We know that 3.5 per cent is what we will expect if we continue to do exactly what we’re doing right now, (but) what happens if we become more aggressive; if we become more creative; if we have a really clear focus on sales and marketing but also a really clear focus on what kind of development work we need to do?
“What could 2020 look like if we get it right? The opportunity ranges, with the highest up to $140 billion in visitor expenditure (annually) which is up from $70 billion where we are today. So Tourism Australia and the Federal Department of Tourism have sat back and asked ‘what do we have to do to double the size of the industry’.”
Visitor expenditure across Queensland for FY11 is forecasted to be about $15 billion. Hayes believes the figure could double by 2020 with strong collaboration between government and industry.
“The potential for us is we turn that into $30 billion (by 2020). We believe that is a reasonable ask and is something that we as an organisation should be striving to achieve,” he says.
“It’s about not doing the same things that we’ve been doing all the way along, it’s about looking at new ways and opportunities to see how we can grow our industry above and beyond the natural growth.
“The funding that’s been made available is to help all the smaller business people and 80 per cent of the businesses in tourism are less than 20 people. (TQ is focusing) on helping them to build a business plan to focus on the longer-term, to develop their businesses and develop their products so that they’re providing a great service.
“If we got to $30 billion it means tourism would directly employ 160,000 Queenslanders, which is an additional 37,000 jobs on where we are at the moment, and it would be $12 billion in contribution for the economy - that’s an amazing opportunity for growth of the state.”
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