Govt urges Aussies to See Australia

4 May 2001

Australians are being persuaded by their government to travel more at home in a first Federal Government-backed domestic tourism initiative called See Australia.

David Mazitelli, vice chairman of See Australia, said the campaign was developed by the Federal Government in cooperation with state governments and territories and the industry.

This is the first time the Federal Government has funded a domestic tourism campaign. It is contributing A$8 million (US$4 million), the states together A$4 million and industry, A$5.5 million with the two major sponsors being Accor Australia and Mastercard.

Asked why the initiative now, Mazitelli said, “We are of the view that the competitiveness of our international tourism sector is underpinned by the scale of our domestic industry.

“The more competitive the domestic industry, the more competitive the international sector.” Growth in domestic tourism is also below the average growth of GDP, he said. “The Australian economy is growing at an average of three-and-a-half percent a year while domestic tourism is growing at one-and-a-half percent.

“This campaign is about accelerating the rate of growth so that it does not fall below the national average.”

He stressed that the campaign was not aimed at curtailing Australian outbound travel. “Australian outbound continues to grow at a strong rate. It is a very important part of our travel behaviour – Australia is made up of people from 140 countries and, as a result, VFR traffic is very big.

“It is important for Australians to travel abroad because it stops them from being complacent when they see how things are in other countries.” Mazitelli said the Australian outbound market stands at 3.5 million passengers a year compared to five million inbound.

He said the current environment was also more conducive to domestic tourism. The liberalised aviation scene has resulted in cheaper fares and more choices for consumers, he said.

Asked if the government was concerned whether the market could sustain four domestic airlines, Mazitelli said, “Who is saying the market cannot sustain them? There are others who say it can. Companies like Impulse and Virgin Blue would not have invested if they didn’t believe they could make a go of it.

“We are very confident additional capacity can be sustained and there will be tremendous consumer benefits.”

Asked if the weak Australian dollar would aid the campaign, Mazitelli said, “Yes, intuitively, you would think so but you have also got to look at the TWI (Trade Weighted Index), a basket of currencies, and not just the US dollar. The TWI has not moved as dramatically and places like Bali and Malaysia are still good value.”

He said the campaign was also to bring about a behaviour change among Australians. “A lot of people are hoarding their holidays. Forty percent of Australians have not taken a holiday in the last 12 months and they have four weeks holiday a year.

Another 40 percent of the workforce had not taken all of the 20 days and they carry over. This is a cost to industry.

“We are encouraging Australians to take holidays and if this campaign is successful, it will bring about a behaviour change and will stimulate the outbound market in the longterm.”

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