Opinion: Population growth a fantastic opportunity

Written on the 3 February 2016

Opinion: Population growth a fantastic opportunity

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in final stages of writing up the Kimberley Economic Forum, which in hindsight delivers great clarity over some key points.

To quote Keynote speaker Michael Pascoe, "If the population is growing by 1.5%, in 6 years you'll have 10% more people (2.3million people) needing shoes, socks, schools and roads, holidays and experiences, and opportunities.

"If we do nothing the [Australian] domestic market is going to grow by 10% in six years.

So spare a thought for our sister city in Japan, Taiji, whose national population is expected to shrink by 40 million people come 2040.  They've got a problem.  We've got this fantastic opportunity.

With this population growth comes a change in dwelling structure to be more high density, where people are investing on fewer items but much higher quality, and with no lawns to mow or gardens to tend, they'll be spending their down time on higher quality leisure experiences.  Life isn't about 'cheapness' anymore, it's about 'quality'.

Let's think about this in relation to Broome's major industry export, tourism.  If 88% of the Kimberley tourism market is domestic then the prospect of investment here is exceptional knowing we have this inevitable population growth, and the ability to offer them a high quality experience.  It might be cheaper to go to Bali, but are they getting the quality of experience they could be getting here?

James Brown, Chair of the Broome Tourism Leadership Group also offered his confidence at the Forum.  "Like Pascoe said, I don't know that the industry is in such a bad space.  Look at the numbers," He said.

"Back when [Broome's tourism] industry was booming, there was about 200-220,000 inbound passengers, we're still at around the same number and if it's dropped off it's only been 30-50,000 people.  50,000 people sounds like a lot, but in term of domestic tourism market, 50,000 people is all we need to change our industry from where it is now to really, really doing well like it was back in 2009-10."

For all of those businesses out there who have been hanging in there throughout this wet season, I hope this gives you some optimism for the future.  I know times are tough, but don't lose perspective, if you look beyond the horizon great things are coming.

Rhondda Chappell, President BCCI

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