Paul Keating has warned hotel industry operators that they are stuck in the past.
The former Prime Minister spoke at the annual conference of Australia’s second biggest hotel group Mantra, at Kingscliff in northern New South Wales.
Mr Keating suggested it was only the weaker dollar that was helping tourism in Australia and if operators wanted to attract a bigger share of the Chinese travel market, improvement was needed.
“Chinese visitors aren’t going to come here for hotels and resorts built in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Keating.
“They will drift off to bigger and better things, along the lines of what’s being done in Vietnam.
“We will have to lift the bar in terms of the quality of what we have to offer. This will be a challenge for the next five to seven years given incomes in China will continue to rise.
Mr Keating suggested the issue was not only one for the tourism industry but for the whole country which he suggested, had made little progress in recent times.
“Australia’s living off 1980s and 1990s policy changes,” he said.
“I think tourism is going to be an important contributor to recovery, if we set ourselves up for opportunities coming out of China.”