Gaming billionaire James Packer has added to concerns about the state of Australia's multi-billion-dollar tourism industry, arguing a change of focus is needed to keep the one of the nation's top-three export industries competitive.
While Packer's self-interest is obvious (his investments include the Crown and the Burswood casinos in Melbourne and Perth, which are heavily exposed to the Asian high-roller market), his views will no doubt raise a few eyebrows in Canberra, which has a long history of dealing with the Packer family.
It comes as tourism operators complain that the soaring Australian dollar is not only reducing the nation's attractiveness as an international destination, but is also luring locals to offshore destinations.
A Roy Morgan survey last week showed that 12.9 million (or 70%) of Australians aged 14 years or older intend to take at least one holiday in the next 12 months, with the percentage who plan to holiday domestically coming in at a historical low of 54%, while those who intend to go overseas reached a high of 10%. Four percent were undecided on their destination.
Packer told The Saturday Age that Australia needs to get "more sophisticated' if it wants to attract middle-class Asian tourists.
"It's one thing if you want backpackers on $50 a day, but the market Australia should be aiming for is the affluent and rising middle-class Asian market,'' he added.
''That is who Australia needs to be aiming for, because we are too far from Europe and too far from America.''
Central Australian Tourism Industry Association general manager Peter Grigg says it's difficult to fault Australians for capitalising on the record Aussie dollar by travelling overseas. External source: To read complete article 'Click Here'.