Australian Tourism Directions Conference – Geoff Dixon Speech

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My thanks to Martin Ferguson for his leadership of our industry since 2007.

2012-11-04 — / — Along with his many achievements, he has been a passionate advocate for quality – in terms of the Australian product, service and, of course, our marketing.

These sentiments align perfectly with where Tourism Australia sees the future.

Driven by the Tourism 2020 plan, we are pursuing a yield strategy that encourages us to find the consumers and the markets that will deliver the greatest benefit.

It means that we lead with our best when marketing Australia.

I will talk more about this later, but first I would like to look at the past 12 months and the momentum gained.

It has been a year where Tourism Australia has deliberately and significantly accelerated its strategies to pursue growth in Asia – an approach with profound and far-reaching consequences for our industry.

While acknowledging the real need to care for our traditional markets, we have directed more of our focus and created more partnerships with our near neighbours in Asia – and in particular China – with considerable success.

As you all know, the industry was severely challenged by the freefall in visitor numbers from the UK, Europe, the USA and Japan after the global financial crisis.  But at the same time, and luckily so, industrial growth in Asia was creating a new middle class with the means and desire to travel.

Taking advantage of this transition from far-flung western markets to near neighbors in the east has been central to our strategies, and those of our state and territory partners.

That said, we have not stopped marketing to the west – we are running a strong partnership model to ensure we are out-spending competitor destinations in countries such as the UK, Germany, the USA and Canada. And we have seen Europe stabilise and the Americas and Japan growing again for Australia.

This is to be a short speech, so I will summarise some of the key themes and messages we have been focused on over the past few years, before being joined by Tourism Australia Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, where, with Helen’s help, we can explore some of these themes a little more.

As I have already outlined, Australian tourism is an industry in transition.

In the year 2000, less than 40 per cent of our international business came from Asia and now that number is more than 50 per cent. And if you include the numbers from our friends in New Zealand, the Asia Pacific region is already over 60 per cent of Australia’s inbound business.

So obviously Asia is where the real growth will come from.

Australia is a western developed nation with a clean environment, unsurpassed natural beauty, great food and welcoming people right on Asia’s doorstep. We are a comfortable, nonstop flight away and operate in a compatible time zone.

Recent research shows that we are the number one preferred destination for Chinese consumers and in the top most considered destinations in countries such as India, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Japan.

So we will continue to capitalise on the desire for Australia by our near neighbours, but the shift from west to east is not the only transition our industry is now required to come to grips with.

There is also a seismic shift from marketing through traditional mediums to digital and social media platforms.

While Tourism Australia has grasped this change and innovated quickly, it is my view that the entire industry’s ability to capitalise on this shift will be vital to its future success.

This leads me to the concept of one voice. Many of you have heard either Andrew or I speak of this over the past 12 months.

It is about lining up behind brand Australia to tell a consistent story – one that has impact. We can no longer afford, in such a competitive environment, to have a confused or disparate message when telling our story overseas.

Tourism Australia is a well resourced national tourism organisation, but we can tell a much more powerful and consistent story if we align our efforts with those of the states and territories, the industry, airlines, and global distribution players.

It is as simple as branding our great destinations more clearly – for example Kangaroo Island, Australia; the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; the Kimberley, Australia.

And it is as complex or detailed as lining up our marketing effort behind the “There’s Nothing Like Australia” campaign, better coordinating international road shows and delegations and making a big, diverse country as simple and appealing as possible to the target audience.

There has been much work done in this space and our co-operative efforts are being enthusiastically embraced and are growing rapidly.

The final theme I would like to touch on is the need for constant investment and reinvestment in the Australian tourism experience.

Unlike some commentators, I happen to believe in the quality of the Australian tourism product and the service that goes with it. And as someone who has travelled the world many times over, it is my personal view that the Australian visitor experience still stacks up against competitors. And consumers leaving the country – as measured by tourism research Australia – agree with me.

That said you can never afford to rest on past glories or the historic view of our country. The Tourism 2020 goals outlined the need for many additional beds in capital city Australia and not new beds or more volume, just better beds in regional Australia.

This is why Tourism Australia and our department is working with Austrade to seek out the investors willing to back Australian tourism.

While it is early days in the partnership, the reaction from the international investment community has been enthusiastic and Australia’s fundamentals hold strong appeal – with returns in the hotel sector of between 13 and 16 per cent over the past three years.

In fact, in 2012 alone, there has been almost $1.3 billion of hotel transactions in Australia – more than 80 per cent from overseas buyers.

We are also seeing much activity by state governments in this area – the most notable being the work being done in Perth by the West Australian Government to help overcome the severe shortage of rooms in that city.

Finally, I would like to encourage you to get behind Tourism Australia and the Australian tourism industry. Talk it up, not down and find the opportunity, not just the problem.

For our part, we will continue to lead with our best and work actively with partners to speak as effectively and as often to a well defined target audience.

This is the thinking behind our latest global campaign, There’s Nothing Like Australia, launched in 2010, the advertising has taken the image of Australia unashamedly upmarket and is working extremely well in the more than 20 countries in which it is shown.  It is a campaign people want to work with…we have more than a dozen strong airline marketing agreements and backing from, many of the industry.

I strongly believe that Australian tourism is on its way up. That our near neighbours in Asia represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity for continued growth and prosperity. And that success will come down to our ability to deliver high quality visitor experiences that back up our “World’s best in Australia” marketing message.

Thank you.


Tourism Australia
Leo Seaton
Media Relations Manager
P. 61 2 9361 1363


Australian Tourism Directions Conference - Geoff Dixon Speech

Australian Tourism Directions Conference – Geoff Dixon Speech