Australia’s tourism chief, Rick Allert, chairman of Tourism Australia, is spooked by the fall down the rankings of country brands, who has flagged yet more challenges for the industry in the year ahead.
Getting knocked off the top and slipping to number three in an international survey of country brands will impact Australia’s image abroad and subsequently hurt tourism, Mr. Allert warned.
“It is a cause for concern that it [Australia] has slipped in the rankings with USA and Canada taking the top two spots with Australia now third,” he said, adding that the rising fortunes of Brand America could be attributed to the star factor of President Barack Obama.
Despite Australia being the number one place people say they most want to visit, less than 1 percent of tourists actually do so, said Mr. Allert.
And although inbound arrivals to Australia, which declined by 3 percent in the year to the end of August, showed it fared better than both the global and regional averages, Mr. Allert warned of the challenges that lay ahead for tourism operators.
He said he had already noticed a ‘‘pick-up’’ in travel to competitor destinations such as USA, Japan and France and that as consumer confidence returned he predicted a wave of competitive marketing. In Australia’s second biggest market, the United Kingdom, more than 160 national tourism offices are competing for British tourists.
“You can only imagine what the marketing clutter is going to be like as consumer confidence returns and the tourism offices look to recover the losses of the last year,” Mr. Allert told the Australian Tourism Export Council conference in Sydney.
An even bigger challenge facing Australia is the tyranny of distance. That perennial problem was set to become more acute as cash-rich but time-poor tourists opted for shorter breaks, he said.
“Instead of people planning a trip to an exotic long-haul trip to Australia, we may see them taking a holiday closer to home,” he said.