Tourism Minister Fran Bailey released an official comment on the hoopla surrounding Lara Bingle and her colourful love life last week, but one minor detail was lost in all the debate – where the bloody hell have all our tourists gone? In Crikey today we reveal how Australia has managed to capture the title of the world’s worst performing tourist market.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, Australia’s tourism growth has actually gone backwards, landing us in the same league as nations like war-torn Lebanon. So how did we get here?

Qantas plays a key role in the Australian tourism industry. Back in October, before the private equity bid, CEO Geoff Dixon promised in a media release the airline would reduce its international fuel surcharges and “extend the reductions to our domestic surcharges” if fuel prices continue to fall. Oil prices have fallen by around $10 a barrel since then. Qantas management have fallen silent on surcharges.

It appears as if it is no longer in their financial interests to adhere to their statement, given the private equity bid. The more the oil price falls, the more attractive the deal looks for the private equity guys.

As oil hovers at around an 18 month low, MacBank has given Qantas a profit forecast upgrade this morning  – and the tourism watchers all seem to be on holiday.