Australian tourism is gaining significant momentum for recovery, surviving two of its biggest challenges this year by resisting the tendency to “go dark” in the early months of the pandemic.
The double blow of being hit by Covid 19 impacts almost immediately after bushfires ravaged many popular tourist destinations presented the country with deep challenges. But a responsive plan has resulted in, among other things, robust network growth in travel consultants for the industry worth A$126 billion (US$89.1 billion).
Campaigns like Live From Aus in May, a live-streamed programme of virtual travel experiences to inspire the next Australian holiday, generated about 34 million online views in some 40 countries.
Tourism Australia (TA) also almost tripled the number of travel agents who went through their Aussie Specialist Program training to 80,000 agents in the last financial year, compared to 30,000 in a normal year.
“Obviously, in the panic phase, we did pause everything when the consumer sentiment wasn’t there,” TA’s executive general manager commercial, Robin Mack, told attendees at Australia’s luxury business exchange event Luxperience.
“But as you get into that restricted movement, and people were locked down as some still are in that dreaming phase, (people) can really absorb the content and we wanted to make sure we stayed as relevant as possible”.
With borders likely to remain closed to international visitors till late 2021, TA’s post-bushfire campaign appealing to locals to Holiday Here This Year has been evolving to meet current conditions, as some interstate borders remain closed or limited.
“(The campaign) is almost a call to arms and a behaviour change,” said Mack. “Already, over A$80 billion is spent domestically by Australians (including) 85 million room nights or overnight stays. But our big opportunity for that domestic market is getting the 9.6 million that go overseas to holiday in Australia.”
With restrictions beginning to ease, TA launched a new A$7 million campaign this week, headlined by Australian celebrity couple Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake, aimed at driving that domestic market to book not just hotels but experiences.
In the meantime, expecting that a trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone will soon be in place, Australia and New Zealand are also targeting each others’ markets and preparing for the luxury sector to be the first to fly.
“From a premium travel viewpoint, I think the luxury sector in New Zealand is underestimated from an Australian visitor perspective, so we’re looking forward to sharing and growing that segment,” said Tourism New Zealand general manager for Australia, Andrew Waddel.
“Ultimately, we believe that across the two markets, there are circa 10 million trips that won’t happen overseas or internationally and we think getting New Zealanders and Australians to travel locally as well as across the Tasman is not only a great way of connecting as people but also (encouraging) that regeneration in travel,” he continued.
Luxperience today concludes four days of meetings and educational talks as a fully virtual event for the first time with 640 delegates, an increase from past physical events which on average saw 600 buyers, media and exhibitors participating.