Tourism generates jobs but leads to congestion and higher prices: survey

Tourists flock to MacDougall Street in Kirribilli to photograph jacarandas.

Tourists flock to MacDougall Street in Kirribilli to photograph jacarandas.Credit:Wolter Peeters

Felicity Picken, a lecturer in Western Sydney University’s School of Social Sciences and Psychology, said the survey had tapped into a growing awareness of the social costs of tourism.

“[T]he tourism industry will almost always end up competing with residents for access to ‘the best’ that a nation, place or city has to offer,” she said. “For Australia, this includes national icons, pristine natural areas and premium city real estate, shopping, food and entertainment districts.”

Dr Picken also said the benefits of tourism — wealth creation, jobs, intercultural exchange — were not evenly spread.

The UNWTO estimated there were 1.4 billion international tourists in 2018, with tourism accounting for an estimated 10 per cent of global GDP and 1 in 10 jobs.

The global survey on perceptions of urban tourism was conducted in 15 countries, with 12,000 people quizzed about their attitudes towards tourism, including 1000 Australians.

A spokeswoman for Ipsos, which conducted the survey, said people in different countries had similar concerns about tourism including congestion, whether the economic benefits were shared with local communities, and the environmental impacts.

«Residents in Sydney and Melbourne are acutely aware of the amount of transport infrastructure work being undertaken in their cities and the level of pressure on their roads and public transport systems,» she said. «All of which is likely impacting their beliefs regarding the impacts of tourism on transport.»

Just under half of Australians felt there should be action taken to better manage urban tourism, the survey found. Argentinians, Spaniards and Koreans expressed more concern, while only 24 per cent of Germans and Japanese said there should be measures to cope with tourists in cities.

The survey also found Australians had some of the most positive views on tourism – 72 per cent of respondents agreed it generated wealth and income, created more jobs and new leisure activities.

Argentinians and Swedes also tended to hold positive views about the impact of tourism, but less than half of Belgians, French, Germans, Japanese and Americans said tourism had a beneficial impact on their cities. Koreans were the most likely to believe tourism had a negative impact on their cities.


State and federal tourism ministers were reluctant to comment on the negative aspects of tourism identified by the survey.

Adam Marshall, NSW Tourism and Major Events Minister, said the state government had set a target of $20 billion in visitor expenditure in rural and regional NSW by 2025.

But John Graham, Labor’s spokesman tourism and major events, said regional NSW had missed out on half the infrastructure spending promised by the state government.

Simon Birmingham, the federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said: “We know the benefits of tourism are widespread, with it directly employing 1 in 13 Australians and having flow-on effects for millions of Australian businesses including almost 300,000 businesses within the industry itself.”

Andrew Taylor is a Senior Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.




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