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On behalf of Tourism Australia I wanted to say thank you for the industry’s efforts in 2018. It’s been another strong year for our Industry with continued focus on the Tourism 2020 goals to grow overnight visitor expenditure to over $115 billion.

This year Tourism Australia remained active in 15 international markets. We continued to focus our resources on the high potential markets of China, the US and South East Asia whilst also ensuring we invest in opportunities across our footprint. The year ended with China continuing to grow exponentially faster than 2017 but with India as our fastest growing major market for visitors boosted by the current India cricket tour. 

At Tourism Australia we remain optimistic about the Industry’s future. Having said this, we shouldn’t ever become complacent or be unaware of the challenges we face. We know from our research that Australia continues to be a highly desirable destination. We do however face fierce competition from other destinations that are closer and cheaper for many of our key markets. That’s why, through our consumer demand research, we are focusing on high value travellers who are most motivated by what we have to offer and are most likely to choose Australia for their next holiday or business event.

Of course, it’s critical that our marketing efforts are not only well targeted but also cut-through and resonate with our target audience. We believe a key part of this narrative is bringing the country and its experiences to life through the personality of our people. That‘s why the Dundee campaign we launched in February at the Super Bowl, was so important. This campaign is the largest we’ve run in the United States since Paul Hogan’s famous Come Say G’Day ads of more than 30 years ago. In October we launched a further phase of activity with Luke Hemsworth inviting Americans to book a trip Down Under and visit the ‘set’ of the movie which continues to make the most of the interest generated and boost leads for industry.

We are also working in the key South and South East Asian markets of India, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia to dispel a number of the long-held myths about Australia and to encourage further dispersal and repeat visitation. A critical part of this strategy has been our $10 million UnDiscover Australia campaign. This campaign represents the first time that Tourism Australia has launched a single coordinated campaign for the South and South East Asia region. The early results are promising and we look forward to continuing this campaign into 2019.

Another key strategic shift for Tourism Australia in 2018 was the launch of the $12 million Business Events Bid Fund. Managed by our specialist Business Events Australia team it is designed to assist business event bidders in competing against other international destinations. We’ve already seen nine great wins announced such as 2019 SportAccord Exhibition and the 2021 UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Melbourne. It was also great to host the Business Events Australia Greater China Showcase in Melbourne last month, the first time ever the event has been held outside China. By giving these customers an Australian experience we believe will achieve greater results for this important segment of the market. 

In partnership with our State and Territory partners the Signature Experiences of Australia program is going from strength to strength. Working with industry this program is helping us connect with discerning international travellers seeking travel destinations that deliver unique and authentic experiences which tap into their passion points. We were thrilled to have launched the Discover Aboriginal Experiences collective this year and are actively working on another pillar which will be launched at next year’s Australian Tourism Exchange.

The use of our Friends of Australia, individuals who have a genuine affinity with Australia, continues and we will work with them to tell our story. A great example is Bollywood celebrity Parineeti Chopra who has shared her experiences Down Under with her 36 million fans on social media. Another fantastic example of utilising the Australian personality to sell our country was our partnership with ‘Aussiewood’ during the first phase of the Dundee campaign.

Looking to 2019, the year will start off strongly with G’Day USA, Australia’s premier public, economic and cultural diplomacy program in the United States. Tourism Australia, along with Qantas, DFAT and Austrade are foundation partners of this important event and we look forward to continuing this association.

In March, the next instalment of Aussie News Today, our focus on the international youth market will roll out in Europe. Whilst the campaign has been successful in terms of publicity and generating over 365,000 leads for our partners, we are reshaping some of our activities for the next phase after consultation with the Australian industry as well as research with our customers in the markets of Germany and the UK.

Through our partnership programme we will continue to work with our aviation and key distribution partners internationally. As well as this we will also continue to support front line travel sellers through the Aussie Specialist Program which currently boasts over 30,000 qualified agents globally. I’m also really excited about our Aussie Specialist Ambassador initiative which kicks off in March for qualified Aussie Specialist travel sellers to come Down Under on a famil and create inspirational content that will educate other agents on the country’s diverse tourism experiences and destinations. Think of this as a ‘Best Jobs’ for our Aussie Specialist partners and another unique way of supporting the great job that they do in selling Australia.

The year will also be full of great industry events and we’re excited to have a hat-trick of key events in Western Australia with the 40th Australian Tourism Exchange in April, Corroboree West in October and Dreamtime in December. Perth has a great story to tell as a ‘new’ destination in Australia and we are looking forward to using these events to amplify the message. I’m also really excited about the Virtuoso Symposium in Melbourne in May, which will see over 100 of Virtuoso’s key decision makers descend on Australia, and the 2019 World Routes Conference in Adelaide in September.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to the team here at Tourism Australia and, on behalf of them pass on our sincere thanks to Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, his predecessor, Steven Ciobo and the Tourism Australia Board chaired by Bob East for their continued support of the organisation.

But most importantly a big thank you to our Industry. As I have said many times before, Tourism Australia is a platform for your stories and your products. Day in day out you work to sell Australia both domestically and internationally and we feel privileged to partner with you. Thank you again for all that you do in driving the industry forward.

I wish all of you compliments of the season and a safe and prosperous New Year.

See you all in 2019.

 

John O'Sullivan, 

Managing Director, Tourism Australia