Destination Australia Conference

  • Speech, check against delivery

It's great to be here for the fourth annual Destination Australia Conference. This event provides a fantastic opportunity for our industry to come together with a collective focus on developing innovative strategies and ideas to ensure future growth.

Australia's tourism industry is in a great place.

Tourism is now a $135.5 billion industry that provides direct employment for almost 600,000 Australians and contributes $55 billion to Australia's GDP.

The impact of this growth is far reaching, playing an important role in the economic growth of Australia's regional centres. Indeed, 45 cents of every tourist dollar spent in regional Australia.

International arrivals and spend are also at record levels. We've seen international visitor spend grow a further 6 per cent in the last year to reach $41.3 billion, with spend from Chinese tourists alone hitting $10 billion.

This is undoubtedly thanks to the hard work and continued commitment from people like you who work tirelessly every day to attract overseas travellers to our country.

The whole of government Tourism 2020 strategy has also ensured a decided focus on attracting high value travellers to Australia who we know spend more and disperse more widely into our regions when they visit.

This means effective and targeted tourism marketing in those markets where we see the most potential for growth and tapping into these valuable travellers.

A great example of this is Tourism Australia's latest Dundee campaign launched at the Super Bowl in the US earlier this year.

The US market is critically important to Australian tourism, ranking second in terms of expenditure and third in terms of arrivals.

However, while spend out of the US rose to $3.8 billion last year, this was a modest jump of 3 per cent year on year, reinforcing that now is the perfect time to uplift investment and capitalise on the potential of this crucial market.

While more Americans are travelling than ever before, Australia's share of these out-of-region trips has remained steady, representing only 1.3 per cent.

That is why Tourism Australia is making a record investment in the US with the new Dundee campaign.

A favourable exchange rate, increased aviation capacity and highly competitive airfares makes this the perfect timing and opportunity for such a significant focus on the US market.

This new campaign, which at first appeared as a trailer for a new Crocodile Dundee movie, aims to capitalise on the potential of this lucrative market, by putting Australia at the forefront of travellers' minds in the same way that the original Crocodile Dundee film did 30 years ago.

While still very much in its early stages, feedback from industry and partners has so far been incredibly positive with reports of an uplift in enquiries and bookings among travel retailers.

This targeted marketing approach has also been paying dividends in China, which has recorded yet another year of exceptional growth off the back of a successful 2017 China Australia Year of Tourism.

Spend from Australia's largest and most valuable market surged 14 per cent to nearly $10.5 billion for the 12 months ending December 2017.

This growth directly correlates with the year-long bilateral celebration, demonstrating the importance and impact of strengthening our tourism relationship with China.

When we look at valuable markets or sectors that hold the potential for further growth, there is another that may not always come to the forefront of everyone's mind; and that is business events.

Business events is one of Australia's most lucrative sectors of the tourism industry. It is the third most valuable source of visitor expenditure in Australia, which has been estimated at between $14 billion and $28 billion.

Business events visitors are also high yielding, spending on average twice as much as leisure travellers on their trips here.

The impact of business events on both the industry and wider economy is far reaching, with these visitors often extending their visit to regional parts of Australia and likely to return for a holiday in the future.

With the fast growth of economies across Asia and recovering incentive markets in the US and the UK, we believe there is potential to significantly increase business event visitation and spend over the next decade.

However, as expected, it's not just Australia looking to attract these valuable travellers, with countries all around the world vying for lucrative incentive and association events.

That is why today I'd like to announce that the government, through Tourism Australia, will help provide Australia with a competitive advantage when bidding to secure new high-value international business events through the establishment of Australia's first ever federal government funded business events bid fund.

From 1 July, Tourism Australia's exciting Business Events Bid Fund Program will see $12 million dollars committed over three years, to increase conversion of business for Australia in an increasingly crowded international marketplace, by offering financial support at the critical bidding stage of international business events.

Managed by TA's dedicated business events unit, Business Events Australia, the Program builds upon Tourism Australia's extensive existing activities in the business events space to increase awareness and demand for Australia as a business events destination.

It will offer support to new international business events including corporate incentive trips, exhibitions, association conferences and congresses.

The funds will also only cover on the ground costs associated with the delivery of an event, ensuring that every dollar goes back into the Australian economy through tourism products such as accommodation, transport and venue hire.

More details on the Program will be available through Tourism Australia, but I am certain that this provide Australia with a valuable advantage in this space.

The new Bid Fund is just the first of many exciting milestones to come for the industry this year.

Next week will mark the commencement of the Qantas Perth to London direct route. This historic aviation event will connect Australia and the UK, one of our most valuable tourism markets, like never before.

The impact of this route on jobs and tourism will no doubt be felt Western Australia and across the country.

Increasing aviation capacity is one of the key goals of the Tourism 2020 strategy and is crucial to the growth of the industry.

In the last 12 months, we have seen a 30 per cent uplift in capacity from China with 2 million seats.

Chinese travellers can now fly to Australia from 16 cities with ten airlines operating around 150 direct flights per week between the two countries.

Also coming up this year is the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. It is anticipated up to 60,000 domestic and international visitors, and athletes from 70 countries will attend the Games.

Events of this global scale provide a great opportunity to promote Australia as an attractive and vibrant holiday destination, encouraging international visitors to stay longer and spend more.

Today's conference is all about innovation and adapting to challenges and change. The year 2020 now within sight, we have begun to look at what challenges the future might hold for tourism.

Effective tourism marketing will undoubtedly continue to play a crucial role in attracting overseas visitors to Australia. With the government's high yield tourism strategy, there is a need to focus our efforts on those international markets that hold the most potential in terms of us being able to tap into high value travellers.

Continued work in the aviation, access and visa spaces will also continue to drive growth, while technology has the potential to continue to disrupt the way people book holidays and travel.

But it will be the continued efforts of you, our tourism operators and marketers that will ensure that our country maintains its world-class tourism offerings.

I'd like to thank you all for being here today with the collective goal of further strengthening our industry.

Media enquiries