Australia is known by most people around the world for having one of the worlds most distinct and rich environments, residents with an admired and sought-after lifestyle, and a climate that is highly favourable. These compelling assets have made Australia one of the most desirable visitor destinations in the world, turning tourism into a significant part of Australia’s overall economy. It wasn’t always like this, however, as much of Australia’s tourism industry didn’t open up to the masses until the most recent decades.
Post-war transportation boom
While rail travel and the family motor car era provided slightly more opportunity to travel for local people following the First World War, it wasn’t until the period following the Second World War that travel started to take off. The post-war period brought improved methods of transportation, rising standards of living, and more marketing of foreign destinations, which opened the doors for international travel. It wasn’t long before ocean liners and then air travel became more readily available, with the “jet age” of 1960 the tipping point for tourism becoming part of the national economy.
Investment in infrastructure
Post-war Australians also started to enjoy a marked increase in income and private car ownership, more leisure time, three weeks of paid annual holidays (introduced first in NSW in 1958), and the introduction of long-service leave, which facilitated more travel throughout the Commonwealth. It was this increase in domestic tourism that prompted the fast development of infrastructure to support it, such as new roads, improved accommodation facilities, and modifications in the organisation and methods of tourist administration, development and promotion. Roads were better, National Parks were set aside and foreshores were developed in such a way that promoted the Australian tourist industry.
The Government’s support for, and participation in, the development of the tourism industry grew rapidly throughout the late ‘50s and ‘60s. It wasn’t long before the tourism industry was promoted heavily, especially to the rising middle classes in America and parts of Asia. Advertising campaigns such as the 1980s commercial featuring Paul Hogan focused on Australia’s laid-back style, prompting visitors to come and grab a piece of paradise for themselves (and another shrimp off the barbie).
Australian people and events that drew attention
As the tourism industry really started to take off, there were many people and events that brought even more attention to the nation. For example, Crocodile Dundee was popular in the Americas and brought attention to nature and wildlife, and the Utopia region’s aboriginal art brought unprecedented global attention to Aboriginal culture in Australia.
Interest in the northern reaches and places like Kakadu National Park and Uluru brought tourists who wanted to emulate Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter by jumping on a Kakadu tour, and even climb the then-named Ayers Rock. The wine industry began establishing itself as a leader in the global wine market, bringing thousands of visitors every year to enjoy winery tours all over the nation. The success of the Sydney Olympics drew plenty of attention as well, and by that point Australia’s tourism industry was booming.
Today, Australia is still enjoying the benefits of the booming tourism industry, which has become a consistent contributor to the nation’s GDP. The number of annual visitors continues to grow every year, and even Aussies travelling at home have contributed vast amounts. Tourism in Australia has further projected growth on the horizon, as more and more people come to discover the majesty of this great land.