Qantas boss Alan Joyce is upbeat about the prospects for Australian tourism and says operators just need to adjust to the high dollar.
Mr Joyce has told a Tourism and Transport Forum lunch in Sydney that the dollar makes it harder to compete with rival overseas destinations, but he says Australian tourism needs a more ambitious mindset.
The Qantas chief executive says his company would benefit greatly from a fall in the currency to 70 or 80 US cents, but this is unlikely in the short-term, and Mr Joyce is not counting on it.
He says other Australian businesses also need to adapt to a local currency sitting around parity with the greenback and make their plans accordingly.
"We keep calling it the high Australian dollar when, now, it is more the normal Australian dollar.
Yes, it puts pressure on all of us to be competitive in the global context, but we should never use it as an excuse for not winning tourism business," he told the lunch gathering.
"Many of the great destinations around the world - London, New York, Paris - have historically had high-value currency, yet tourism has thrived." Mr Joyce is hopeful the airline's alliance with Middle Eastern carrier Emirates will benefit the broader Australian tourism sector if it is given final approval by regulators.
The deal has already received interim approval, and Qantas is already selling tickets to 33 destinations via the Emirates network, and Emirates is selling tickets to 32 Australian destinations.
"That is good news for Australian tourism, these 32 different codeshare destinations in Australia," he said.
"Because it means Emirates, the world's largest international airline, with all its marketing and sales resources, is now motivated to sell tickets on a global basis to destinations like Hobart, Cairns, Broome, Canberra and Coffs Harbour, to name but a few." Mr Joyce is also hopeful that Qantas will be able to deepen its partnership with China Eastern airways, with which it has codeshare arrangements and is its partner in the Jetstar Hong Kong business due to start flying later this year.
"Qantas is the first international airline to enter a joint venture with a Chinese carrier, one of the big three, China Eastern - a tribute to the respect held for Qantas and Australian aviation in China," he said.
"While the partnership with China Eastern is [in its] very early days, we believe it's a great platform for that to grow and that to evolve." Bureau of Statistics figures out today show , with around 630,000 Chinese nationals holidaying here last year.