Exciting new times for tourism
2019 will be an exciting year for tourism in northern Queensland! Strong trends, both nationally and globally, tell us this. Across Asia, as well as domestically, more people than ever are travelling to locations that offer environments and experiences promoting healthy lifestyles, clean air, safety, and novel activities.
To understand why 2019 might be a growth year for the North, the quality of life issues in contemporary urban environments provide the key. Within Australia, those living in our big cities are increasingly subject to stresses, due in particular to traffic congestion, and constant digital connectivity. Spending time away from these personal and work circumstances by visiting a less intense setting becomes an appealing escape option.
For citizens of mainland China, a major source market of our international travellers, the pollution and crowding in the large east coast cities drives both the need for escape and the desire to have what we in the industry call ‘status differentiating holidays’. Why can northern Queensland be a target destination for stressed urban families and individuals? Some of our research studies in tourism at James Cook University offer answers. For example, we have found that driving in the north is a pleasure not a pain for many travellers. Far less traffic, changing landscapes, rural outlooks and the chance to see a different lifestyle prompt enthusiastic response in our surveys of the international and domestic markets.
Nevertheless, we can do more. The academic studies have identified an even greater need expressed by tourists to get to know the local way of life. Many of the international visitors would like to see how our houses function, how our schools and Universities work, what happens in a day care centre, and how we manage free public spaces and parks. Our world is different to theirs and actually touring and accessing the local places is an opportunity to add to our existing attractions and environments. The business possibilities to develop “backyard Aussie tours” are opportunities to be grasped to build our further success.
More generally, tourists and tourism thrive on good information. As a JCU Professor of Tourism who has spent long periods in Asia, my contacts frequently ask me about what to do in northern Queensland: especially the best places to eat, the products to buy and the secrets of the region. Further questions are all about where to find bargains, what local foods to try, what are Australia’s best clothing and product brands, and how to see the animals of the region. For domestic tourists, too, there are questions about the environment, the fruits and foods of the North, and a keen desire to see how life “works up here”.
If tourism marketers and local businesses offer lists of options and activities and tell the stories of the North, we can maximise the positive experiences of visitors, lengthen their stay in the region and generate benefits for locals. We can anticipate that 2019 and beyond can see a boost for tourism in the north and, for those of us in the University world, teaching more students about tourism is a part of these new exciting times.