The contribution of the tourism industry to economic growth and employment is now being recognised although, in international terms, Australia still lags well behind in tourism receipts. In 1982, Australia's relative share of the market represented only 1.4 per cent of the OECD total, placing Australia on a par with countries such as Sweden and Portugal but eight to ten times below the level of the United States, Italy or France.
A 1981-82 survey on the economic significance of tourism by the Bureau of Industry Economics (BIE), showed that tourism makes a considerable contribution to both national income and employment and warranted more recognition as a growth industry. The BIE study estimated that tourism contributes 4.8 per cent to Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is responsible for employing 340,000 people or 5.2 per cent of the workforce. By way of comparison, tourism's contribution to GDP and employment is equivalent to the combined textile, clothing and motor vehicle industries.
During the 12-month period of the survey, it was estimated that the total gross expenditure by both domestic and international tourists in Australia was $12.7 billion. After deducting transfers, imports and indirect taxes, the expenditure amounted to $7 billion, 15 per cent of which was due to international visitor expenditure. The BIE report also estimates that on average $1 million of international visitor expenditure creates, directly or indirectly, 34 jobs.
Some insights are provided by the BIE report into characteristics of employment in the tourism industry. Most of the expenditure generated by tourism, for example, is channelled into industries with a high degree of labour intensity. These include the restaurant and catering trade, hotels and motels, transport and storage, and retail trading. Tourism also makes a major contribution to the provision of employment opportunities for some disadvantaged groups. While women hold...