With a record 6.3 million people coming to our beautiful shores in the last year, Australia is a hot destination again. And with our weaker dollar, it’s only going to get hotter. The $31 billion question is how much of that tourism windfall is your business getting?
The numbers are staggering. In the last year, international travellers spent a record $31.1 billion here, up 7%, and the number of holiday makers increased 8% to 2.9 million spending $12.3 billion, up 8%.
Those visiting friends and family shot up by 10% to 1.8 million and their trip spend increased 18% to $5.1 billion. Guests mixing a bit of business and pleasure also rose 13% to $17.3 billion in spending.
Four of our five usual suspects (New Zealand up 5% to 1.1 million, China up 18% to 784,000, US up 11% to 523,000, and Singapore up 10% to 325,000) returned record visitor arrival numbers.
And it’s only going to get better. According to a recent IBIS World report, international arrivals will hit a whopping 7.11 million in 2014-15, buoyed by our weaker dollar.
Australia is back baby, and not a moment too soon. There’s no sugar coating it. The years following the Global Financial Crisis and the ensuing economic hangover was a killer for those on the tourism frontline.
As the number of visitors from Asia, US, NZ, and Europe sunning themselves on our beaches, filling our restaurants and hotels, and renting our cars dried up, we Aussies were making the most of the surge in the Australian dollar (US$1.10 in May 2011) to head off overseas.
It was a perfect storm which could have sunk the most hardened small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But it looks like we’ve finally turned the corner. Over the past five years, the $3 billion car rental industry (3.1% annual growth); $12 billion restaurant industry (3.6%); and $6 billion hotels and resorts industry (3.6%) have bounced back.
Which is all great news. But what if you are running a café in Bondi, a newsagent at Tullamarine Airport, or a Gold Coast B&B? How can you cash in? What can you do with the knowledge that growth from Asia will account for 56% of total growth in arrivals between now and 2023?
Well, there are ways you can engage more, particularly with the high-growth markets of China, India, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.
Tourism Research Australia has packaged up some tips, marketing strategies, and a raft of resources specific to SMEs to help you grab some of that tourism gold.
They suggest things such as hiring bilingual staff; translating your signage and flyers; understanding the culture better including when they holiday; and “creating a small difference to set yourself apart”.
Of all the tips, that last one may be the easiest to initiate. One of the most immediate and simplest ways to stand out from the crowd (and add to your bottom line) is Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).
DCC is an easy-to-activate facility available on Tyro terminals which allows SMEs to offer customers a way to pay in more than 130 currencies.
Customers get a familiar currency they understand so there’s no tricky exchange rates to calculate, and they won’t have to wait until they get home to know how much they spent; and you get extra revenue from the generated foreign exchange margins.
Maybe getting your slice of the tourism pie is easier than you think. Maybe as easy as flicking a switch. Learn more about DCC here.
 All figures provided by Tourism Research Australia.