This is a short but informative discourse on the growth and development of tourism in Australia since World War II. The first few segments will focus on the history of Australia as a nation in order to provide a solid background for the inherent factors which contribute to the growth and development of tourism in Australia. The second segment will briefly highlight the Australian economy to show the benefits that have been derived from the tourism boom in Australia. Finally, the last segment shall carefully identify and explain the major factors that have contributed to this tourism surge in Australia since World War II.
Brief History of Australia Australia mainly known for its picturesque surroundings is more than meets the eye. Australia boasts of a rich history under the rule of the British and enviable living conditions for its citizens (Pike, 2002). However, Australia was not always like this. Before the arrival of Western influences, Indigenous Australians inhabited the mainland but eventually European explorers set foot on Australia. The most notable explorer, James Cook mapped out the east coast of Australia and claimed this piece of Australia as a British Colony.
The contributions of James Cook were integral in the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales. The British territories grew larger with more and more discoveries of Australia’s mainland. The influx of the British caused the decline in the population of the Indigenous Australians (Pike, 2002). Slowly, the British colonies in Australia governed themselves while remaining under the British Empire. The British Empire only controlled foreign affairs, international shipping, and defense.
A decade of planning, consultation, and voting gave rise to the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1905 (Mason, 2003). The new country took advantage of all its natural resources to rapidly develop into an agricultural and manufacturing country taking into consideration its strategic location. World War I started to brew across the Europe and Australia was willing to take part in the war (Pike 2002). Enlistments were abundant which caused the industries and trade agreements of Australia were disrupted because of the war.
Trade agreements with Germany were put to a halt thus Australia had to find other means to address their needs of steel. Like in any war, profiteering occurred and the ordinary people could not even purchase the basic utilities (Mason, 2003). However, at the end of the War, Australia managed to produce more products than ever before, which contributed to the growth of the nation. Effect of World War II on Australia World War II made Australia purchase products which could have easily been produced thus the war was a huge boon to Australia.
The restrictions of rationing imposed by the government allowed personal savings to increase. There was also full employment during the war since manpower was being utilized for essential industries. Australia was more prepared for World War II than it was for World War I. World War II did affect Australia. “Migration revolution” began which led to multiculturalism instead of “White Australia”. The government was so afraid to be invaded that it encouraged the influx of refugees and displaced families from Europe.
Consequently, Australia evolved into a country of mixed races and mixed cultures (Pike, 2002). Ties between Australia and the British Empire were officially severed with the passing of Australia Act 1986. This act severed any rule of the British Empire in the Australian states. Australia now rules itself and is developed country surrounded by the developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region (Mason, 2003). The Australian Economy Australia is a very prosperous nation. It boasts of ranking third in the UN Human Development Index 2006, which indicates that Australia is a developed country.
It beat the United States and even the United Kingdom. Australia was only surpassed by Norway and Iceland. Australia developed from a country with an industry focusing on wool to a country that has numerous industries in sectors ranging from trade to agriculture (Macfarlane, 1998). In 1850, Australia focused on the wool industry but with the discovery of gold in 1850-1860, the government passed a bill that encouraged the manufacturing and construction. Since the gold resources were being stressed by the immigration, wool resumed its position as the economic power in 1860.
The decade between 1880 and 1890 saw a great rise in foreign investment but foreign investors grew concerned about the returns that Australia could supply thus, Australia experienced a great depression by 1890. The world wars encouraged Australia to produce more products thus sectors like agriculture increases (Parham, 2002). Now, wool was not the only contributor in the economic strength of Australia. An injection of foreign investment allowed the development of Australia also contributing to the economic growth of the country.
The beginning of World War II marked the period of increased productivity or the “long boom” (Parham, 2002). Manufacturing became a huge part of the economy. Import restrictions allowed the manufacturing sector to grow. However, foreign investors noticed the manufacturing sector could not increase productivity and investment declined in this sector. This did not affect the growth of the economy since the mining industry to exploit the natural resources of the country was being established and encouraged an increase in foreign investment. The Australian Stock Exchange was established in 1987.
Government run industries like Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and Quantas were privatized. The Labor markets were deregulated and reforms like the Goods and Services Tax were implemented. All these contribute to a solid economic status that Australia enjoys (Burns, 2006). Tourism in Australia As shown in the graph presented below (See GRAPH 1), the revenues that Australia earns from tourism accounts for a significant portion of its GDP. In line with this, the Australian government has slowly developed the growth of the Tourism industry in the country.
Some of these plans include the development of infrastructure to foster sustainable tourism and the shift to more ecotourism which accounts for a major part of Australian tourism (Edgel, 2006). Since World War II, the Australian government has been trying to encourage the growth of the tourism industry by taking advantage of the vast natural resources and exotic scenery. At the present, the tourism industry accounts for 4. 7% of Australia’s GDP. It is also the reason for 11. 2% of Australia’s export earnings and the employment 6% of the workforce in Australia (Elliot, 1997).
The vast expanse that is home to a significant number of unique flora and fauna also accounts for the growth of the tourism industry in Australia. Major Factors Contributing to Tourism Surge in Australia Perhaps the greatest factor contributing to the growth of the Australian Tourism industry since the World War II was a work ethic that was long in place, even before the occurrence of World War II. In the early 1900’s, the Australian Urban Trade Unions adopted an eight (8) hour work day accompanied by eight (8) hours of rest and most importantly, eight (8) hours of recreation (Burns, 2006).
This was an important development in the growth of local tourism and even international tourism because it emphasized the relevance of leisure and recreation and made travel and tourism an integral part of Australian culture. This type of culture and thinking prompted the creation of new tourist destinations for the local residents. This led to the development of railroads which in turn led to greater access to most of Australia’s national parks (Herremanns, 2006). The developed that ensued not only made tourism accessible to the urban dwellers but eventually opened up tourism to all sectors of society.
The development of coastal parks began soon after this. Inland and outland tourist destinations also soon flourished because of the development of the infrastructure in Australia (Chon, 2000). Nina Mistilis, in her work entitled Public Infrastructure Development for Tourism in Australia A Critical Issue (2004), is of the opinion that the past and present growth of the tourism industry in Australia is largely dependent on the infrastructure projects undertaken by the Australian government.
For tourism to continue its growth, public infrastructure projects such as roads and rails, ports and airports must be developed to accommodate more traffic and also allow better access to other areas in Australia. Another major factor in the growth and development of tourism in Australia was the amount of leisure time and greater disposable income as a result of the Second World War (Elliot, 1997). The first change was the gradual institution of three (3) weeks holiday as a standard.
This allowed more of the domestic tourists to enjoy their vacations in Australia and visit places that were farther away from their hometowns thus expanding the tourist sites (Herremanns, 2006). Aside from the increased holiday and leisure period after the war, more and more Australians owned motor vehicles due to the greater disposable income that was available. This meant that the three (3) weeks holidays could be enjoyed more as the availability of alternative modes of transportation permitted tourists to explore other tourist destinations all throughout the continent (Mason, 2003).
International tourism, which accounts for a significant portion of the tourism industry of Australia, also contributed to the development of tourism after the Second World War as it made Australia a viable place to travel to (Burns, 2006). In the early 1980’s and 1990’s when Japan and America had turned into powerhouse economies that possessed strong currencies, particularly against the Australian dollar, international tourism skyrocketed (Herremanns, 2006).
The profitable short package tours, which accounted for majority of the tourism packages sold, featured trips to the iconic symbols of Australia such as the Koala Bear, Ayer’s rock and the Great Barrier Reef (Herremanns, 2006). These short package tours were particularly significant however as they increased the marketability of Australian tourism and also strengthened the association of those symbols with Australia and thus increasing visibility and identity on a global scale (Mason, 2003).
The local economy invariably profited from these also as the short package tours generated a lot of income and also increased souvenir item sales. This economic growth increased the per capita earnings of the population in these local attractions and also improved the overall condition of the tourist attractions as the added source of funding and income allowed improvements to be made to the local infrastructure (Mistilis, 2004). Another important phase in the growth and development of tourism in Australia since World War II was the development of ecotourism (Edgel, 2006).
The vast natural resources and natural land attractions of Australia, not to mention the rich and unique flora and fauna that abound in the national parks, make it an ideal place for ecotourism (Pike, 2002). Backpaking soon became a major source of revenue for the local tourist destinations. Because ecotourism promotes the overall growth of the community, long term benefits were provided to the local populace to achieve what is known as “sustainable tourism” (Edgel, 2006). This also allowed for the preservation of the local cultures that make Australia and unique and enjoyable tourist experience, be if as part of a group or alone.