This publication presents results from a survey undertaken in respect of the 1996-97 financial year of businesses whose main activity was the provision of travel agency services. Businesses, such as domestic and international airlines which carry out travel agency activities, but are mainly engaged in other activities (e.g. providing airline transport services) were excluded from this survey.
TYPE OF BUSINESS
There were 3,266 businesses in the travel agency services industry at 30 June 1997. These businesses are categorised into four broad types; retailers, wholesalers/ticket consolidators, inbound tour operators and tourist bureaux. Businesses mainly engaged in the retailing of travel products (2,842) accounted for 87% of these businesses, of which 2,393 (84%) were mainly retailing travel products for leisure purposes. Of the remaining 424 businesses, 158 businesses were wholesalers of travel products and 170 were inbound tour operators.
SIZE OF BUSINESSES WITHIN THE INDUSTRY
Businesses employing fewer than 20 persons comprised 97% of all businesses in the industry at the end of June 1997. These small businesses accounted for 54% of industry employment and 45% of the total income of all businesses in the industry. In contrast, there were 19 businesses employing 100 persons or more which accounted for 32% of industry employment and 37% of industry income.
In 1996-97, the 3,266 businesses in the travel agency services industry generated total income of $1,980 million, which was mainly (65%) in the form of commissions on ticket sales. Retail travel agency businesses accounted for $787 million of these commission sales, while most of the remainder was earned by wholesalers/ticket consolidators ($341 million) and inbound tour operators ($149 million). Retail travel agency businesses during 1996-97 generated gross ticket sales of $8,503 million, the majority (62%) of which was sales of international travel.
Total expenses incurred by businesses in the travel agency services industry in 1996-97 were $1,936 million. The largest single item of expense was labour costs of $648 million which represented 33% of total expenses. The labour costs of retail travel agency businesses ($407 million), being more labour intensive, accounted for 39% of their total expenses.
The industry recorded an operating profit before tax of $37 million for the 1996-97 financial year, which represented an operating profit margin of 2%. This profit margin varied by type of travel agent. Retail travel agents had an operating profit margin of 8.1%, whereas inbound tour operators had an operating profit margin of 6.5% and wholesalers/ticket consolidators recorded a negative operating profit margin of -16.8%.
At the end of June 1997, total employment in the travel agency services industry was 24,451, of which females comprised 17,737 (73% of total employment). Persons working on a full-time basis accounted for 80% of employment in the industry, 72% of whom were females. Working proprietors and partners accounted for 7% of all persons employed.
STATE AND TERRITORY DIMENSION
The travel agency services industry in 1996-97 was concentrated in the eastern mainland States, with 78% of the locations operating in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, which was comparable to the population distribution. However, retail travel agents in these three States had gross sales of $6,928 million which represented 81% of all sales by retailers.