Coasting Along

Contributed By: Resort Brokers on

By Shane Wynhoven

Australia’s east coast has traditionally been a hotspot for tourism.  But when the Australian dollar hits record highs, it weakens both our domestic and international tourism markets.  Thankfully, the Aussie dollar is coming down. In global terms, Australia is considered to be a premium travel package.  It is a long way to travel for most, at considerable expense.  And when tourists arrive, they are met with even higher travel costs. So, when the Aussie dollar peaks, heading ‘down under’ becomes a less attractive holiday option for the international traveller.  With our South East Asian neighbours offering far better value for money, we struggle to attract the budget and mid-range traveller. At the same time, the Australian traveller’s money stretches further than ever before under these economic conditions, making international travel more accessible and affordable than ever.  Not only close-by travel destination like Bali and Fiji, but long-haul flights to the USA and Europe have been frequented like never before.

Now, it looks like our economy is righting itself.  There is no doubt that the country performs at its best when the AUD sits around the 80 US cent mark, and it appears now to be heading in that direction.  While imports like TVs and Xboxes might not be quite as cheap as before, Australia’s appeal to international travellers will be reignited. It may take a little longer to coax the ‘extreme’ budget-conscious market back to our shores, given that a backpacker will still buy far more for their dollar in South East Asia.  But we will see international tourism arrivals grow as our dollar comes down.

Furthermore, the purchasing power of Australians abroad will decline a little, putting our own fantastic travel destinations back on their radar. If you ever want to check the temperature of tourism in Australia, take a look at the Gold Coast.   Anecdotally, the previous two financial years had been among the worst in 30 years for the Gold Coast.  However, all reports are very positive so far this year, and the future looks prosperous.
The Gold Coast is benefitting from major capital investment in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, including its new light rail system, major refurbishment and expansion of Pacific Fair Shopping Centre and Jupiters Casino, and some large scale resort and apartment proposals.
But it doesn’t stop there.  There is good news all over the country.  Here are just a few of the tourism-boosting developments happening or in the pipeline on the east coast:

·      Sydney’s $6 billion transformation at Bangaroo on Sydney Harbour, is shaping up to be the city’s most vibrant precinct with a focus on bringing international visitors on a large scale.
·      The NSW Central Coast has a proposed $500 million Chinese Cultural Theme Park, which Wyong Shire Council describes on its website as “one of the biggest tourism projects NSW has ever seen”.
·      The Queensland government is encouraging major new integrated resort developments to go ahead, with three new casino licences potentially on offer.  Huge projects on the drawing board as a result include the Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane, the $8.15 billion Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort north of Cairns, and ASF Consortium’s cruise ship terminal proposal for the Gold Coast.
·      The $1.4 billion Ella Bay integrated resort in tropical North Queensland is set to be the largest eco-tourism development in Australia.
·      A revival of a $100 million Skyride cablecar proposal for the Gold Coast hinterland.
·      In the Whitsundays, Hayman Island has had a beautiful $80 million refurb, and Hamilton Island’s world class Qualia resort sets a new standard in sheer luxury.

So, with that immense level of investment heading our way, much of it targeted to the international market, there is every reason to be confident in our tourism future.
As I was concluding this article, Reserve Bank deputy governor Philip Lowe was telling a gathering of business economists in Sydney that he expected to see the exchange rate fall further.
Excellent news as we ‘coast into’ what, from all accounts, should be a bumper 2015.

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