Success, Innovation and Opportunity for Australian Tourism
Over 150 tourism industry and business leaders gathered at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on August 16 for a panel discussion on success, innovation and opportunity for Australian tourism. The event was run by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the panel involved three outstanding Australian tourism industry leaders. John O’Sullivan CEO of Tourism Australia, Ann Sherry Managing Director of Carnival Australia and Matt Bekier, CEO of the Star Group which owns and manages some of Australia’s premier integrated resorts. I had the pleasure of being the moderator and inquisitor of this panel of respected tourism industry leaders.
Australian tourism has enjoyed unprecedented growth over the past few years. The growth of international inbound tourism has exceeded 10% per annum growth for the past two years- more than double the global average. For the year ended 30 May, 2017 over 8.5 million international visitors arrived in Australia. While the number of visitors has grown considerably, Australia leads the world in length of stay (23 Days) and per capita tourist expenditure. In financial terms Australia is now a top 10 global tourism destination. Australian tourism has succeeded in attracting a growing share of outbound tourists from China, SE Asia and the United States.
Tourism Australia CEO John O’Sullivan explained that Tourism Australia has been working to its Tourism 2020 strategy which has prioritized and targeted particular segments of it’s key source markets. In it’s approach to China and SE Asia it has targeted those travellers seeking an unique tourism experience that only Australia can offer. This includes those people who wish to explore the scenic, environmental and cultural diversity of Australia and who are not restricted to a tight budgets. TA’s marketing campaigns including Restaurant Australia, Coastal and Aquatic and the emphasis on eco tourism, indigenous experiences and cultural experiences has given tourists a range of new reasons to experience Australia. Tourism Australia has embraced innovative marketing, especially through widespread employment of multiple social media platforms as a key marketing tool. Mr O’Sullivan expressed confidence that Australia will enjoy significant growth in the coming years.
Anne Sherry reflected on the extraordinary growth of the cruise sector in Australia. For the past 12 years the Australian cruise market has achieved year on year double digit growth. On a per capita basis Australian’s are the world’s leading supporters of cruising. In 2016 1.25 million Australians took a cruise. Australian’s are increasingly attracted to cruising as a complete holiday experience and recognise the value proposition of all inclusive fares. She made the very valid point that cruising was integral to tourism’s contribution to the business value chain. When a shipload of cruise passengers disembark at a port they are contributing to restaurants, retail outlets and a wide range of other businesses. The popularity of cruising and its appeal to a younger demographic has been enhanced by significant product innovations and creative experiences offered on cruise ships. Carnival’s seven brands provide a wide range of cruising experiences at various price points. In addition to the growth of Australians taking cruises within Australia or from Australia to overseas destinations, cruising is becoming an increasingly popular means for international visitors to visit and experience Australia. While the news is overwhelmingly good for Australian cruising, the limits to berthing capacity in Australia’s most popular cruise destination, Sydney remains a challenge the cruise sector has yet to overcome.
Matt Bekier, CEO of the Star discussed the contribution of integrated resorts to the growth of Australian tourism. The Star in Sydney includes a casino, live theatre, a range of accommodation options, restaurants, meetings and event venues and venue for trade exhibitions. The Star also manages the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Queensland and is planning a major integrated development in Brisbane. Dr Bekier believe that integrated resorts in Australia will continue to play a growing role as drawcards for both business and leisure travelers who benefit from a range of tourist experiences in a single precinct. He believes that in Sydney, the Star as a privately owned integrated resort complements state government developed convention centres such as the International Convention Centre in Sydney.
In addition to the panel discussion, the AICC lunch also included the formal announcement of a code share agreement between Qantas and the Israeli carrier El Al between Australia and Israel using the airlines’ services via Bangkok, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. The announcement was made by Rohan Garnett Executive Manager , Qantas International Airline Partnerships and Alliances, with Melvyn Almeida from Consolidated Travel Services, the Australian GSA for El Al and the Israeli Ambassador HE Shmuel Ben-Shmuel. This agreement is the fulfulfilment of over 20 years of negotiations between Qantas and El Al and is expected to be a welcome boost for two-way tourism between Australia and Israel.