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The economic case for Australian tourism

Matt Bekier and Geoff Culbert

Despite tourists ranking Australia highly for desirability and intention to visit, the benefits potential travelers can bring to our economy are stifled by a lack of quality hotels, according to two CEOs.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Asia Briefing Live, managing director and chief executive officer for the Star Entertainment Group, Matt Bekier, and chief executive officer at Sydney Airport, Geoff Culbert, outlined hotels as one of the biggest missed opportunities with regard to the Australian economy. 

“If you look at where Australia is, we lead in every aspect of what is desirable. We are number one destination in terms of desirability for the affluent Chinese, the number one in terms of intention of going, but somehow, we end up at number 14 on the ranking of where people actually go,” Mr Bekier said.

Calling out the issue as being rooted in a lack of quality accommodation options, he flagged it as “not an issue of aeroplanes – it’s just no places to stay and that’s why it’s frustrating and a big opportunity that is drifting past”.


According to Sydney Airport’s CEO, Mr Culbert, for every extra plane landing in Australia, half a billion dollars in additional capital would be generated for the country.

“Our analysis says if we land a new A380 in Australia from somewhere else, it generates about half a billion dollars of economic activity for the country and creates about 5,000 jobs,” he offered. 

Opportunity for investors

Both CEOs said they consider Australia as capable of competing globally, seeing it as possible to claim a bigger stake of the market and, ultimately, provide new opportunities for investors.

Illustrating their example, Mr Culbert said, “Thailand went from 1 million Chinese visitors to 10 million Chinese visitors between 2011 and 2018.” 

“We are now at 1.4 million, [and] our ambition is to get to 3 million,” he continued.

The economic case for Australian tourism
Matt Bekier and Geoff Culbert
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Cameron Micallef

Cameron Micallef is a journalist at Nest Egg, writing primarily about personal wealth and economic markets. 

Prior to this, Cameron worked for Australian Associated Press. He graduated from the University of Wollongong with a double degree in communications and commerce.

You can contact him on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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