Competitiveness of Australia as a Tourist Destination

Article excerpt

A model of destination competitiveness is presented. The model seeks to capture the main elements of competitiveness highlighted in the general literature, while appreciating the special issues involved in exploring the notion of destination competitiveness as emphasised by tourism researchers. The paper then presents the results of a survey, based on indicators associated with the model, to determine the competitiveness of Australia as a tourist destination. Policy measures to enhance the competitiveness of Australian tourism are discussed.

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Tourism numbers to, and expenditure within, a destination are crucially associated with its international competitiveness.

A model of destination competitiveness is presented. The model seeks to capture the main elements of competitiveness highlighted in the general literature, while appreciating the special issues involved in exploring the notion of destination competitiveness as emphasised by tourism researchers. The model was developed in a collaborative effort by researchers in Korea and Australia (1) (Department of Industry, Science and Resources, 2001).

Following the development of the competitiveness model, a survey was conducted to determine the competitiveness of Australia as a tourism destination. Underpinning the survey instrument was a set of indicators of destination competitiveness. It is acknowledged that indicators of destination competitiveness are many and varied. They include objectively measured variables such as visitor numbers, market share, tourist expenditure, repeat visitation, foreign exchange earnings, employment, value added by the tourism industry as well as subjectively measured variables such as "richness of culture", "quality of tourism experience", destination "appeal", "scenic beauty" (Hassan, 2000; Ritchie, Crouch, & Hudson, 2000; Dwyer & Kim, 2002). The selected indicators were based on a review of the competitiveness literature and also on discussions at industry workshops held in Korea and Australia. Participants at these workshops identified the important indicators of destination competitiveness falling under the main elements of the destination competitiveness model (for elaboration see Dwyer & Kim 2002). The surveys covered the competitiveness of both Korea and Australia as tourism destinations. This paper focuses on the Australian results only.

This paper has two major aims: first, to set out briefly the model of destination competitiveness underpinning the study; second, to set out the results of a survey, based on indicators associated with the model, to determine the competitiveness of Australia as a tourist destination

Model of Destination Competitiveness

Dwyer, Forsyth and Rao (2000a, p. 11) state that "tourism competitiveness is a general concept that encompasses price differentials coupled with exchange rate movements, productivity levels of various components of the tourist industry, and qualitative factors affecting the attractiveness or otherwise of a destination". The ultimate goal of competitiveness is to maintain and increase the real income of its citizens, usually reflected in the standard of living of the country (Garelli, 2000; Porter, Sachs, & McArthur, 2001). From this perspective, the competitiveness of a nation is not an end in itself but a means to an end; the ultimate goal of industry development is to increase the standard of living of people.

The model displayed as Figure 1 brings together the main elements of national and firm competitiveness as proposed in the wider literature (Porter, 1990, Moon & Peery, 1995; Waheeduzzan & Ryans, 1996) and the main elements of destination competitiveness as proposed by tourism researchers (Buhalis, 2000; Hassan, 2000; Mihalic, 2000). Space limitations preclude a more detailed discussion of the background literature on competitiveness (but see Dwyer & Kim, 2002). The model contains many of the variables and category headings identified by Crouch and Ritchie (1994, 1995, 1999) and Ritchie and Crouch (1993, 2000) in their comprehensive framework of destination competitiveness but differs in some important respects. …