Backpackers on tour in Sydney
Australia’s backpacker tourism industry has reported significant drops in international tourist numbers and a reduction in services and tours across the country.
Figures show the number of guests staying in hostels dropped by almost 7 percent in the last two years, according to Tourism Research Australia.
Every Australian state experienced a decrease in the number of International backpackers in the year ending March 2012, according to news.com.au.
Tour operators and industry experts cited the unforgiving and unpredictable Australian weather, tight regulations, high costs, global economic instability and increased competition from Asia as detractors.
“Tour companies are dying - we are 40 per cent down over the last three years as there have been less and less arrivals into the country,” Red Earth Safaris WA Terry Ramsay said.
“They [the Government] don't care about the backpacker market. We worry there won't be any tours soon - it will be interesting to see how many more go under this year.”
Base Backpackers Brendan McKenna said “Sydney is very quiet” and “if Sydney is empty it is very worrying.”
Mr McKenna said Perth is a fantastic tourist spot but a lack of resources and access has deterred the lucrative, vibrant backpacker market from venturing west.
“Perth is the gateway to Western Australia but it is very hard to access as there is nowhere to sleep and it is so expensive it puts off backpackers going there at all,” he said.
“The industry feels overlooked. Backpackers can be viewed badly but they spend a lot of money.”
“The youth market did help pull Australia through the GFC.”
Backpacker Youth Tourism Council chairman Peter Ovenden was confident that although the industry was experiencing its toughest times in 20 years, “it could pull through with new, innovative tours and more marketing help from state governments.”
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said backpackers were important to the country's visitor diversity.
“These people tend to stay for long periods, which is great in terms of the tourism dollars they spend here,” he said.
“Importantly, today's backpackers are often tomorrow's high rollers, coming back to Australia down the track, often with their families, so it is critical that we work hard now to deliver the best of first impressions.”
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T