Market Outlook in Australia: 5 Insights for 2024

By Scott Haycock, Senior Vice President, Business Development – Greater China, Australia & New Zealand

Happy Australia Day on January 26, where families this weekend are certainly enjoying water parks and activities in the heat of summer. With recent headlines saying that the country’s interest rates have finally peaked, I thought I’d put my observations together of my conversations with clients and partners and share my take on what the market can anticipate in the coming year in my part of the world.

Restored confidence in tourism leads to more demand for family entertainment

In 2023, domestic tourism spending has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels, showcasing a resilient recovery. In fact, Tourism Research Australia is forecasting international spend to follow the trend in 2024, projecting a remarkable 6% annual increase in total visitor spend in the next 5 years.

Of course, this growth in tourism signals good news for many, and I see big opportunities in family entertainment. From my experience as a father, I know that children basically call the shots on whether a family visits an attraction and how long they will stay. This important demographic has often been underserved when developers set their target customers. In recent years, parks all over the world have been reimagining and reinvesting in their kids’ areas, recognizing that this audience requires special considerations beyond a shallow pool and a few spray toys.

Modern kids’ area designs have features that not only entertain children for hours, but also allow for intergenerational play and relaxing time for the parents.

Children jumping under a bucket tipping water from an aquatic play structure

Adventure Park Geelong, Wallington, Australia

Increased attendance means time to refresh park offerings

Wet’n’Wild, Dreamworld, and Sea World are just a few examples of established parks that have been making memories with beloved attractions—and these guest-favourites are now in need of a refurbishment or upgrade to respond to visitor growth.

Take Warner Bros. Movie World, for example. Its iconic “Wild West Falls Adventure Ride” Super Flume was modernized with a fleet of 14 new vehicles that include individual hydraulic lap bars for guest comfort, anti-roll back design for quieter operations, and removable floor panels for quick access to maintenance.

Super Flume, Warner Bros. Movie World, Oxenford, Australia ©Warner Bros. Movie World

With the expected growth in tourism also come more opportunities for expansions. We can look to a top outbound Aussie tourist destination for inspiration: Waterbom Bali. This premier water park opened its Oasis Gardens area last year, complete with four thrilling new slides, a lagoon pool, a swim-up bar, and gazebos. This year will see the opening of AquaForms 16, a large, highly configurable multi-level aquatic play structure, so keep your eye out for this news.

Standing out in the midst of a new supply of hotels

Despite recent economic headwinds, we have seen a wave of new hotels in the past four years, according to a report by JLL. While the projected increase in demand is expected to fill these new rooms, there is no denying that hotels and resorts need more than a place to sleep to stand out. Based on the “Global Analysis of the Impact of Water Park Equipment on Hotels and Resort” conducted by Hotel & Leisure Advisors, 100% of hotels increased their average daily rate (ADR) after having added aquatic amenities.

Paradise Resort Gold Coast, one of Tripadvisor’s top 10 resorts in Surfers Paradise, reported that the addition of its water park truly made it a family resort and extended the length of stay, which led to more spending in food and beverage, and ultimately RevPAR (revenue per available room).

Child playing between water slides

Paradise Resort Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Australia

Download the full report here to see how hotels and resorts around the world differentiate with water park amenities on site.

Making money making waves

As a surfer and a former professional athlete, I am extremely excited about how advances in inland surf will make the sport accessible to more people. Even in Australia, a country known to be a great surf destination, a state-of-the-art lagoon such as Endless Surf can create waves that cater to different skill levels and bring with it a host of revenue generation opportunities.

Worldwide, there is currently a boom in surf park development. In Australia, all eyes in this segment are on Parkwood Village, which received development approval last November for an integrated golf and surf village. An Endless Surf surf pool will be the star here, served by residential, hotel, retail, entertainment, and dining facilities. Surf AM, golf PM? It’s not just a mindset; it’s a lifestyle.

Endless Surf, Parkwood Village, Gold Coast, Australia

Sustainability as a way of doing business

With the government of Australia committed to delivering net zero emissions by 2050, everything we do in the leisure and attractions sector needs to consider sustainability at the core. At WhiteWater, we are busy working on ISO14001 environmental certification and looking at optimizing our supply chain and production to become more sustainable as well as making our products use less water and energy. One example is our new FlowSurf deep flow stationary wave system that operates with industry-low power consumption and water volume.

And now, what about those interest rates? It seems that analysts and businesses are optimistic about a drop toward the latter part of 2024, making the market ripe for new investments. I think there’s plenty to get excited about in Australia, and I would like to hear from you. Contact me at