A story in the Cairns Post today discusses a “mega-familiarisation” for backpacker tour agents in Cairns. The backpacker market is obviously an important sector for the region so this is good to see happening.
However, for reasons that escape us, the Post has decided to demonstrate the importance of the sector by using data from Tourism Research Australia’s Sept 2012 International Visitor Survey. This survey is conducted every quarter with the latest data available currently for the June 2014 quarter. Why hasn’t the Post used that data?
For the record the Sept 2012 numbers show backpackers making up 10% of all international visitors; that has fallen to 9.5% in the June 2014 data. While the total number of backpackers has increased by about 25,000 since Sept 2012 this equates to just a 4.5% increase while total international visitor numbers have increased at more than double that pace (+9.8%) in the same time. Clearly the backpacker market is struggling to keep pace with the improvements being seen in the tourism market generally, which is not good news for a region which has traditionally been a favourite backpacker destination.