Healthy signs for regional tourism, industry body says

THE outlook for regional tourism is on the up for both domestic and international visitors, the head of the industry's peak body says.

Releasing the Tourism and Transport Forum's latest industry sentiment survey, chief executive Ken Morrison said a lower Australian dollar and a rise in international visitors had set the scene for a resurgence of the industry.

He said tourism operators had already seen an 11-point rise in sentiment in the first quarter of the year, and were expecting even better news as the lower exchange rate took effect.

And as the national economy begins to turn from the mining boom, Mr Morrison said a new "people boom" would start to take effect.

"The mining boom is slowing, and the tourism industry is well-placed to take over from that sector as it slows," he said.

"I think the people boom is just getting started, there are huge opportunities in the growing Asian middle class looking for travel opportunities, and they're not just after the high end market."

Mr Morrison said while many high-end travellers were looking to the casino market, many wanted other, more genuine Australian experiences, particularly in regional areas.

He said many small businesses outside the major cities were already paying close attention to the Asian market, and all operators should be focussed on marketing their products direct to consumers overseas.

Mr Morrison said the key for regional operators in capitalising on Asian tourists would be ensuring potential visitors know what experiences are on offer in their area.

While the survey showed operators remained concerned about the exchange rate, the dollar's importance fell 18 percentage points between March and June this year, to a record low of 45 points.



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