Tasmania—tourism drives exports

Strong growth in Tasmania’s services exports have partly offset contractions in every other sector over the last five years. Tourism dominates services exports (Chart 6). Tasmania received 236,000 international visitors in 2016, up 11% on the previous year. These international visitors spent A$378m.

The US is Tasmania’s largest market and among its fastest growing—up 13% to 32,000 visitors last year. The US economic recovery should continue to support this market—real GDP growth is forecast to rise to 2.3% in 2017 (from 1.6% in 2016). Stronger economic growth should also support solid momentum in visitors from Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Tourism Australia forecasts Chinese visitor expenditure will expand 13% p.a. to A$16b over the three years to FY20. Tasmania attracted just 2% of all Chinese visitors to Australia last year—but this share still equates to an average additional A$35m p.a. in potential Chinese visitor spending in Tasmania to FY20. When choosing a destination, Chinese travellers typically look for safety and security, world-class nature, and good food and wine. While a lack of direct flights from China has frustrated arrivals to date, Tasmania excels in all these travel drawcards. Tourism is therefore likely to drive Tasmania’s export performance.