As perhaps some three billion Asians join the ranks of the global middle-class by the middle of the century and their subsequent purchasing power parity (PPP) rises to similar levels now enjoyed by Europeans – Australia will be impacted economically and culturally – but one of the most fundamental impacts will be on the travel industry – both inbound and outbound.

Australia faces a number of challenges in remaining relevant as a travel destination over the next 20 years. Australia has lost share of the Asia Pacific travel market over recent years, as declines in traditional inbound markets such as the UK, USA, Japan, and Korea have not been fully offset by growth from emerging markets.

These emerging markets such as China, India, and Indonesia will be the source of most of the growth in travel over the period to 2030, and will dominate traveller numbers by this date, but Australia faces a number of challenges in attracting these travellers against other Asia Pacific destinations.

These challenges include visa restrictions, imposing time and cost barriers on travellers from these countries, high costs partly as a result of a high exchange rate, and lack of capacity or infrastructure in areas such as hotels, airports, and high speed rail.

While these are issues for national policy-makers, individual travel operators also need to make changes to exploit the opportunity – in areas such as improving their web and mobile presence within these markets, their social media interface and accessing new distribution channels in the emerging markets.

At the same time, the changing face of the Asia Pacific traveller provides opportunities for Australia – with new markets for travellers developing and new segments of travellers emerging – but in many areas action is needed if Australia is to exploit these opportunities.

The Asia Pacific travel market represents a huge opportunity for travel providers in Australia and those who recognise the increasing divergence of the Asia Pacific traveller, and adapt their offer to respond to it, will be best placed to capitalise.

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Asia Pacific, Australia, Research