The world is a place of abundance, but it also has a problem with too many tour operators.
That’s what a new industry is trying to solve by expanding beyond the traditional tourist market.
The tour operator industry, also known as the tour industry, has been growing steadily over the last decade, and the demand is still strong enough that there are currently more than 2,000 tour operators operating in Australia.
Tour operators operate around the world, from Asia to North America and beyond, but in Australia, most tour operators are based in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.
But as the industry continues to grow, so too has demand for tour operators, and those who operate them are now competing with each other for the best operators in the market.
Tour operator Seo said it is currently looking to expand in all three areas, as well as overseas.
“We have some very strong international growth in the region,” said Seo’s chief executive officer Michael Gough.
“Our international expansion is driven by demand and growing revenue from both the overseas and domestic markets.”
In Sydney, the company operates more than 700 tour operators in a range of areas including: tourism, travel, dining and hospitality.
Gough said Sydney has been particularly hard hit by the global downturn, with fewer people visiting the city than ever before.
“Tour operators have always been a big driver of economic activity in Sydney and we are now seeing the growth of the business as people are turning away from the traditional tours and resort operator business,” Gough told Business Insider.
“In the past we have had a number of operators who were on the back foot, with their operators suffering financially and struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for our services.”
He said Sydney was “not immune” to the downturn and that “in some respects it has been the toughest time to grow” in the past decade.
“People are not going out for a long period of time, so it’s a difficult market to operate in,” Grough said.
“There are always a lot of factors which are driving demand.”
Tour operator Groupe Sainsbury’s is also expanding its overseas footprint, with a focus on Europe.
“We’re now looking to look at the Middle East, particularly Dubai, which is the largest tourist destination in the world,” said the company’s chief marketing officer Michael Moore.
“There’s a huge demand for the experience and service and the quality of the accommodation, so we’re looking to explore other markets in the Middle Eastern region as well.”
“We’re really looking to build a portfolio of more than 30 overseas tour operators to cater for the demand in that region.”
In Perth, Seo has been busy expanding its operations in Japan, which has a demand for its services for the Japanese market, but is also looking at expanding internationally.
“The demand for travel in Japan is really high, and we see a lot more demand coming to Perth for our overseas services,” Moore said.
“So we are actively looking to grow in Japan.”
Moore said the growth in demand for overseas tours in Perth has been a “challenge”, but one that Seo is willing to overcome.
“With more and more people coming to Australia from overseas, and there are more and better opportunities for overseas tourism, we see the opportunity for us to expand our presence in Perth,” Moore explained.
“This has been very challenging in the last few years for us in the Japanese markets, but we’ve done everything we can to overcome it and make the most of our opportunities.”
Souvenir-themed tours have been around since the 1800s, but Moore said they were “the first generation of tourist tourism”.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with our Japanese clients, but they’re also our customers and we feel they’ve become quite attached to us,” he said.
He said Seouo has built a strong relationship with Japanese tour operators over the years and the company is confident that “they will be able to continue to grow and provide their service to us.”
In Melbourne, the industry has expanded dramatically, with the number of overseas tour operator companies growing from 1,200 to more than 12,000.
“It’s still a young industry, but our growth is phenomenal,” said Gough of the Melbourne Tour Operators Association.
“At the moment we have more than 4,000 operators across the country, and they’re all based in the Melbourne CBD.”
Moore described Melbourne as “the epicentre of the tour operator business”.
“I think our industry is going to continue growing, it’s just a matter of time,” he told Business Insiders.
“The competition will continue to come in, and with that, there will be a lot that we can offer our guests.”
Tour operators are also seeking to take advantage of technology in the tour market, including mobile phone apps, as it becomes easier to book online, which Moore said has