Will tourists fall for the soaring dollar?

Published: May 17, 2011

The soaring Aussie dollar has left many of the thousands of businesses that rely on the tourist dollar to survive with a severe case of the heebie jeebies.

Not only is it feared that overseas tourists will stay away from these shores because of the extra expense involved, but also that ‘domestic’ travellers will be lured overseas by the almost unprecedented affordability on offer. If a significant percentage of grey nomads, for example, were to be tempted to park up the van for the winter and head to the US, the UK or that lovely-looking Greek island instead of exploring the highways and byways of this amazing country, the consequences could be absolutely devastating.

But will be tempted? And how bad would our absence hit the Bush?

Well, a new report says the Central Australian region outside Alice Springs is the most vulnerable in the nation to sudden changes in the tourism sector. The Tourism Research Australia report says 24 per cent of the economy in the region is dependent on tourism. This compares with a national average of 3 per cent.

Tourism is estimated to generate 5 per cent of the Alice Springs economy.

Tourism Central Australia’s Peter Grigg told the ABC the region could be significantly affected by the strength of the Australian dollar.

“Obviously that will be a huge challenge for Australia in itself,” he said. “But for a region that is so reliant on the tourism dollar, it could really start to feel that effect.”

Mr Grigg says the report highlights how the economy is vulnerable to sudden changes in the tourism industry.

“If tourism is such a vital economic return to an economic region, and there are a number of challenges and a number of – let’s call them shocks that could come – you then find yourself having that one string to your bow that could be affected.”

Eeek! That really is a worry for a lot of areas … not just Central Australia.

But are we changing our travel plans as the Aussie dollars soars? Are you, for example, now heading overseas instead of heading north? Is this the year you swap Uluru for the Eiffel Tower or Broome for Big Ben? Or will Kakadu always conquer California, no matter how the sums add up?

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