The high Aussie dollar – should we really give a toss?
The impact of the high Australian dollar has embedded its way like a tic into the psyche of the tourism industry. The more we talk about it the more it impacts on our business.
While the exchange rate is having some impact on expenditure by inbound visitors, the clear and present threat to our industry is the growing flood of Australians choosing to holiday overseas rather than closer to home. The more we complain about a challenge that is completely out of our control, the less likely locals will support an Australian made holiday.
Just consider the damage the retail sector has done to itself in the last 12 months by loudly reacting to the advent of shopping online. Hundreds of thousands of Australians have started shopping online because they were convinced by bleating retailers that the high street and the shopping centres could not compete on price…
When we wash our dirty linen in public, there are often unintended consequences. The industry is facing nation-wide labour shortages that are unlikely to ease in the short term.
Why is our industry finding it hard to recruit talent? There are several answers, but two stand out like sore thumbs:
1) As an industry we have been beating ourselves and our customers senseless with negative publicity for nearly two decades. Yes we have faced some trials and tribulations, but the way we have responded publicly has undermined confidence in our product and painted tourism as an unviable career choice.
2) We have also allowed other sectors to paint tourism as dumb… a career choice for people who are in it for a good time, not a long time. What great irony given the diverse and complex nature of this industry.
As individual employers we need to take more responsibility for ensuring that we are an attractive proposition for employees. Too many of us have underinvested in training and development and have gotten away with offering the bare minimum employment conditions. We then shrug our shoulders and point the stick at someone else when our young talent decides to get on the tools and work in remote outback locations… We are the ones with rocks in our heads.
There are great employers in this industry, but too many organisations have relied on the glamour and allure of ‘Tourism’ to cover the cracks of poor leadership and cynical management practices. As people lose confidence in the future of the Australian tourism industry, it will get even harder to recruit quality people.
The first step in reversing the trend is making more of an effort to publicise the opportunities that the industry presents for talented people who want to build careers in tourism. The Victoria University Careers Expo being held as a part of Victoria Tourism Week this Friday is one of a number of great initiatives that will make a difference over the long term.
The success of our industry depends on our commitment to providing a great visitor experience, making people feel welcome and promoting what we have to offer. No-one goes on holiday for a bad time. It is time for us all to take more responsibility for communicating the enormous contribution this industry makes to Australia’s social and economic well being. By taking a more positive approach we will make it easier for Australians to holiday closer to home. We will also become more competitive in the recruitment and retention of talent.
Tags: australian dollar, Australian tourism industry, Chris Buckingham, Destination Melbourne, high australian dollar, impact of dollar on tourism, tourism industry, Tourism Victoria, VECCI, Victoria Tourism Week