As the Western half of the Australian Tourism Exchange kicks off today, Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, held a press conference to share the latest news from the country, and to announce some new plans to take the industry into the next decade.
Last year, Australia saw 5.9 million international visitors. While final numbers are not yet in, McEvoy estimated that, as of the end of March, the total would be more than 6 million, an increase of 5.4 percent over the same period from last year.
The biggest news from Tourism Australia is the announcement of a nine-year plan to drive up tourism numbers: the 2020 Tourism Industry Potential initiative. International and domestic travel in Australia is a $70 billion industry, McEvoy explained, and the company is looking to drive that up to between $115 billion and $140 billion by 2020. The U.S. is the third-largest market for Australia, at $2.1 billion right now, but it could potentially reach $6.7 billion.
Among the challenges Tourism Australia will face in this goal is an improvement in supply options.
"By 2020, we will need to see between 40-50 percent growth in international air seats and 50,000 additional rooms in hotels," McEvoy said.
Another notable market that the individual state tourism boards will need to examine is the cruise industry, McEvoy added, noting that there has been an increase of 30 percent in cruises around Australia. The states, however, will need to decide how they want to capitalize on that opportunity.