By Peter Shelley, Managing Director, Australian Tourism Export Council
We’re back in the game!
LAST week Tourism Australia launched the Come and Say G’day campaign, the first global marketing campaign of Australia since we closed our borders back in March 2020. It’s a significant milestone as it will work to kick start the destination dreaming of potential international visitors who we know have a long lead-time from initial consideration through to arrival.
We anticipate this international campaign will stimulate demand for travel to Australia for next year and beyond.
In the meantime, we have some considerable work to get our destination back to top performance. We all know of the extreme workforce shortages being faced by businesses across the economy. For an industry based on service this is particularly profound. We’ve also got log jams in our visa system which are seeing potential visitors changing their travel plans to holiday in places where the visas are quick, easy and reliable.
And reliability has always been a key to a successful travel industry. No one wants to have their travel plans change last minute, throwing months of research and booking time into disarray.
Right now, this is a major problem for our inbound tour operators who are dealing with airline cancellations, changes and a sheer lack of availability of flights, both international capacity to the destination as well as some domestic routes highly sought after by the international visitor.
ATEC members are reporting significant failure on domestic routes, particularly those which service the international visitor market such as Uluru to Cairns, as well as access to Kangaroo Island. International visitors are routinely facing cancellations, rescheduling and re-routing of flights which is affecting Australia’s position as a destination of choice in the global tourism marketplace. Our size and distance between tourist hot spots can be significant for some parts of Australia and when you’ve come halfway round the world for your ‘bucket list’ holiday, you want to be able to see all there is on offer.
While the indications are that our international air capacity will largely be back online as we head into 2023, there remains much to do to allow the smooth conversion of inquiries into bookings. There is an enormous leap from where we are today, with around 100,000 international holiday makers arriving each month, to where we were back in August 2019 when we saw more than 400,000 arrive on our shores.
Australia has so much to offer, yet the challenge of rebuilding the consistent delivery of quality experiences across the country will remain ongoing for some time as the world collectively works to re-balance post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, it’s great to see Australia back on the front foot led by Tourism Australia’s campaign – a critical initiative supporting the rebuild of our inbound tourism industry.