2. Significance of Tourism
Vision: Victoria's community understands and values tourism.
Tourism delivers economic, social and environmental benefits for
- Raise the awareness of the significance of tourism to key stakeholders.
- Contribute to the conservation and enhancement of the State's
unique natural and cultural values.
- Support and involve local communities and their culture.
The need to promote the value of an industry sector should be paramount
in the strategic direction of any sustainable industry. Tourism
is no different.
It is important that the industry focuses on social and environmental
as well as economic benefits of tourism. This is not to suggest
that economic considerations are mutually exclusive from those
of social cohesion and the environment. In fact, sustainable economic
returns can only be achieved through factoring in strategies that
take all three elements into account.
The emphasis on tourism will increase due to:
- The continuing economic shift from traditional to service based
- Greater focus caused by terrorism and airline crises in 2001
that highlighted the depth of tourism influence on economies and
- Concentration on industries with capacity to increase export
- Tourism being one of the few established industry sectors projected
to maintain significant growth over a long period.
Economic Value of Tourism
Tourism is one of Australia's largest industries. It accounts for
$48.7 billion or 8.6% of Australia's Gross Domestic Product. This
represents a greater contribution than the agriculture or communication
services sectors. For Victoria, tourism is worth $8.5 billion to
the State's economy, contributing 5.2% to Victoria's Gross State
As part of the international economy, tourism is a major force as
it generates 11.2% of Australia's total export earnings, more than
traditional exports such as coal, iron and steel products. It is
forecast that tourism's export growth rate will outperform all key
sectors by 2004-2005. Tourism is an important economic driver. In
Victoria, $11 billion was spent by domestic and international visitors
Revised forecasts from the Tourism Forecasting Council predict
international visitor arrivals to Australia will reach 9.4 million
by the year 2010. International visitors are forecast to grow
at an average annual rate of 6.6% over the next 10 years.
The Australian economy is fundamentally shifting from primary
industry to a service and knowledge base. The total number of
jobs increased by 17.3% between 1986 and 1996, but employment
in agriculture (11%) and mining (6%) declined. Farming is losing
its position as the primary industry of most rural economies.
Decreasing farm profitability and labour efficiencies from agricultural
technology and mechanisation have changed rural employment.
Tourism can promote and facilitate economic activity that supports
aspects of regional life. For example, farm stays, cellar doors
and the purchase of local produce support agriculture, while the
purchase of other products supports local retail and industry.
Tourism spending also has a multiplier effect in the local economy
as it is spent and re-spent by employers and employees.
Tourism may generate income for local government in the form
of rates and levies or as a result of patronage of local government
owned attractions and services. This income contributes to the
quality and quantity of local services and facilities provided
for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
Tourism is part of everybody's business
An independent study commissioned by Tourism Victoria to evaluate
the economic contribution of tourism to the Victorian economy
revealed that many industries benefit from tourism. Further details
on the how the economic value of tourism to Victoria is measured
is included in Appendix G.
View a Full Size Printable Version
Source: The Economic Contribution of Tourism to the State of
Victoria, January 2001, Access Economics Pty Ltd
Social Value of Tourism
Tourism activity offers social benefits to Victoria, such as:
- Generating community cohesiveness through the development
of social capital.
- Facilitating regional pride and local community involvement.
- Contributing to the revival of regional towns.
Tourism is a driving force behind the renewal of regional centres:
Tourism contributes to the development of regional communities
through building partnerships between local people, local organisations
and local businesses. By being innovative and embracing tourism,
Beechworth has transformed from a contracting community based
on institutional employment, to a major tourism centre with a
growing population and employment opportunity and diversity.
Beechworth's focus on heritage tourism has enabled the preservation
and conservation of unique heritage streetscape. It now has a
national reputation for heritage tourism, special events, arts
and crafts, farm tourism and the bed and breakfast industry.
Source: Small Town Renewal: change the future of your community,
2001, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Events play a major role in regional and state economic and social
Port Fairy Folk Festival is one of the largest folk festivals in
Australia. The festival has funded a wide range of community facilities
within the Shire of Moyne, making the festival committee an influential
economic player in the local community. The 1998 Port Fairy Folk
Festival had an economic impact of $1.8 million to the region,
the equivalent of 54 effective full time jobs.
Source: Port Fairy Folk Festival - Economic Impact Study, 1998,
Tourism is a labour intensive industry that provides many full-time
and part-time employment opportunities across a range of skill areas.
Being relatively decentralised, it provides jobs that keep people
in regional areas with flow-on benefits for community life and economic
The tourism industry as a large, diverse and growing sector is
an integral part of the State's economy and has an important role
in achieving environmental sustainability. It is argued that meeting
this sustainability challenge is essential for the future viability
of tourism. This is because more than any other industry, tourism
possesses a natural synergy with the concept.
In Victoria, the environment, in particular the natural environment,
is one of the State's major tourist attractions. Research has
established that the State's magnificent scenic areas are key
interests for visitors. This research clearly establishes that
international and domestic visitors regard the State's clean,
unspoilt natural environment as one of the primary motivators
for a visit to Victoria.
The interdependence of tourism on the quality of the environment
places it in a very special position in terms of environmental
sustainability. Unlike the situation with most industries, concern
for the environment should not be seen simply as a cost. Indeed,
if sustainably managed, tourism can produce great benefits for
visitors, residents and the environment. In fact, travel and tourism
were identified in Agenda 21 as one of the few industries that
has the potential to make a positive contribution to a healthier
planet. Agenda 21 is a program of action adopted by 182 governments
at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED) Earth Summit.
Environmental benefits of tourism include:
- The opportunity to communicate the value of natural and built
heritage and of cultural inheritance to residents;
- Enhancement of the natural and built environment to meet rising
quality standards necessary to sustain modern tourism;
- Providing the incentive for environmental enhancement or rehabilitation
of areas such as town/city centres and old industrial sites, including
the creation of employment in these areas;
- Cost savings to individual tourism businesses through the adoption
of waste and energy minimisation practices;
- Protecting and creating economic value for resources which otherwise
have no perceived value to residents, or represent a cost rather
than a benefit; and
- Raising awareness of environmental issues and stimulating tourists
to advocate for conservation through education and interpretation.
Environmental appreciation can in turn enhance visitor enjoyment.
Increasing Access to Tourism
The industry has both an economic and social interest in ensuring
that travel is available to all members of the community. More
than 3.6 million people in Australia have a disability, or almost
19% of the population. With Australia's population ageing rapidly
this figure is expected to increase within the next decade.
In 1997, it was estimated that the domestic overnight market
for disabled visitors generated expenditure of about $472 million
Australia-wide. Given the international attention of such high
profile events as the Paralympics 2000 and the increased number
of disabled visitors from overseas, the size of this potential
market becomes apparent.
Apart from it making good business sense to better cater for,
and actively market to this significantly large group of consumers,
the industry has a social responsibility to increase access for
people with a disability. Tourism Victoria, together with the
State's tourism industry, has a legal responsibility under the
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Comm.) and relevant state
legislation not to discriminate against people with a disability.
Australians represent more than 145 different cultural and linguistic
groups. Victoria, in particular, has the opportunity to capitalise
on the diversity of cuisine and experiences these groups provide
to the State. Embracing different cultures not only highlights
the importance of their heritage, it provides the Victorian community
with an opportunity to become aware and involved with different
The cultural and historical connections between Great Britain
and Australia have helped facilitate more travel between the two
nations. Established networks exist between Australia's large
immigrant communities and source nations. There is an opportunity
to develop further ties with nations such as Italy, Greece, China
and other Asian countries.
A significant number of immigrant communities have been established
across Victoria's regions. There are Italian, Greek, Chinese,
Turkish and Middle Eastern associations and clubs in regional
Victoria. Effective communication with these groups could have
an incremental benefit in both the Visiting Friends and Relatives
and Education markets.
International visitors have a great interest in Aboriginal culture,
according to Australian Tourist Commission research. While Victoria
may not have the depth and breadth of Aboriginal tourism products
available in other regions of Australia, it has a rich and diverse
The strength of Victoria's emerging Aboriginal tourism segment
focused on unique heritage and non-stereotypical contemporary
experiences, offers a great opportunity for Aboriginal communities
and the tourism industry.
The value of tourism for the Aboriginal community is twofold:
- It provides a vehicle to facilitate pride among the Aboriginal
community in the intrinsic culture and history of Aboriginal life;
- Assists in a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture by non-Aboriginals.
There are a number of issues and barriers that have influenced
the ability to sell the value of tourism to government, the business
sector and general community. This includes the ability to define
the tourism industry and its influence on other sectors such as
The above point is exacerbated by an industry primarily consisting
of small to medium sized businesses. Without a combined industry
voice and large influential businesses, it makes it very difficult
to have tourism placed on government and private sector agendas.
Tourism has therefore struggled to gain recognition in public
Tourism has significant impact and potential for job creation,
export earnings, and social cohesion, but traditional economic
and social development strategies have failed to understand and
identify these opportunities.
Local government is showing a greater propensity to embrace tourism.
However this is not consistent across the board and needs to be
The key challenge is for tourism businesses in all parts of the
industry to adopt ecologically sustainable practices in their
day-to-day operation. Businesses, particularly small business
must increase their commitment to safeguarding the environment
as it is the basis for much of their trade. Obstacles to achieving
- Perceived costs of adopting environmentally sustainable practices;
- Lack of knowledge about how to manage environmental performance
- A lack of understanding of the value of tourism as a major impediment
- Vagueness of the concept of environmental sustainability (e.g.
ecotourism and nature based tourism); and
- Lack of an evidence-based business case.
- Develop and implement an integrated communication program to
increase understanding of the significance of tourism's contribution
to Victoria's economic and social development and environmental
- Undertake further research to identify the impact of tourism
at local, regional and State levels, including the cause and effect
relationship of tourism marketing.
- Raise the industry's profile within Victoria's business and general
community. The Victorian Tourism Industry Council is ideally positioned
to take a pivotal role in a sustained campaign to raise the profile
of the industry and its contribution to Victoria.
- Tourism Victoria, as a government agency, is well placed to influence
a whole of government understanding of tourism, particularly as
a priority growth sector on the business agenda. Tourism Victoria
should take prime responsibility for implementing the communication
program emphasising the value of tourism in the public sector.
- Strategies in the plan should take into consideration the needs
of ethnic and cultural groups.
- Victorian Tourism Information Service and visitvictoria.com to
provide information on tourism opportunities and services for people
- Due to local government's significant role in tourism development,
an on-going program to inform local government about how it can
foster and add value to the industry will be maintained.
- Victoria's tourism industry will develop guidelines for world's
best practice principles for environmental sustainability.
- Tourism Victoria and the industry will work collaboratively with
the Aboriginal tourism sector to realise its potential and integrate
the sector with mainstream tourism.