Down under Back on top

Australia’s tourism industry is well down the recovery path with a mind-boggling number of new attractions to tempt visitors, says Steve Hartridge

Those attending the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) on the Gold Coast earlier this year were introduced to a raft of new attractions, tourism projects and ambitious plans for accelerating visitor numbers.

Over the past three years 192 new properties have opened across the country, bringing 19,000 new rooms to market.

And in February this year visitor numbers totalled almost 450,000, that’s 65% of pre-pandemic visitation levels, with Australia’s key markets – including the UK – 14% ahead of earlier forecasts. Tourism Australia expects a ‘full recovery’ by early 2025, says Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia.

In fact, Australia has ambitious plans for future growth with ‘Thrive 2030’ a long-term campaign designed to realise A$230 billion tourism dollars (in visitor spending) by 2030.

“We have world-class food and wine, culture, beaches, resorts, mountains, rainforest, reef and more, but it is the warmth of the welcome we give visitors that really sets us apart,“ said Harrison.

Limited aviation options, the tightening of traveller purse strings, the prospect of a global recession and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine are all threats to tourism’s growth path, she noted.

Although Australia ranks just 42nd among the world’s destinations in terms of its visitation/arrivals, it is seventh when it comes to the monies those tourists spend, indicating that holidays in Oz are a rich source of income for both the country’s coffers and those travel agents who sell it.

Harrison noted that the high yield from tourists is being fuelled by an increased demand for premium experiences including from those who were not previously ‘high spenders’ but now prioritise spending their cash on holidays and travel.

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Divine Domes, South Australia

“The luxury sector is leading the recovery, along with those products that offer ‘purposeful travel’, that is experiences that ‘feel good and satisfying’, particularly those offering adventure, nature and wellness options,” she said.

Tourism Australia will continue to ‘employ’ ‘Ruby the Kangaroo’ to front a long-term campaign around the world in its main overseas markets.

Those tourists to Australia are expected to sign up to more Indigenous Australian-owned businesses, one of the fastest-growing sectors of the country’s tourism industry, said Harrison.
“These are very important to us; they are our original storytellers. It is not just about dots, didgeridoos and cleansing ceremonies…there is so much more. Discover Aboriginal Experiences is a collection of 160 quality and authentic International ready experiences featuring Aboriginal guided tours.

Indigenous experiences include an Aboriginal Culture and Sand Boarding Quad Bike Tour in New South Wales, a Bush Tucker and Wellbeing tour near Perth, a longer three-Day Kakadu and Arnhem Land Tour near Darwin and many others.

Queensland in particular has a lot to look forward to as venues across the state start gearing up to host the 2032 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Stirling Hinchcliffe, the state’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and also with a portfolio of Assisting the Minister for Tourism and Olympics, said the two events would be worth $8 billion in trade and investment and $2.4 billion in tourism benefits.

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Southeast Queensland, specifially Brisbane and the Gold Coast, will be the official host cities but events will also be held in other towns and cities that include Toowoomba, Townsville and Cairns.

“Queensland offers all of Australia’s iconic experiences in one state: cities, coastal towns, sandy beaches, wildlife, rainforest, the Barrier Reef and the outback,” he said.

“We are blessed to share this country with Aboriginal and Torres Straits people, which will add an extra layer of spirituality to the experiences people have when visiting us, both before, during and after the Games,” Hinchcliffe told Selling Travel.

“One of the real opportunities for us will be to use a lot of our First Nations language and symbols. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has an opportunity to do this and I would be very surprised if, for example, the Olympic Mascots don’t carry a strong Indigenous theme and the branding doesn’t have a strong Aboriginal art and culture emphasis,” he said.

Tourism Australia’s international mega familiarisation and workshop event for agents, G’day Australia, will be held in Cairns, Queensland, from Monday October 9 to Thursday October 12 2023.

G’day Australia is the flagship event of the Aussie Specialist Program.

What’s New?

Wintjiri Wiru, a new drone show at Uluru from Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, shines the iconic Uluru in a new light. The immersive Anangu storytelling experience at Ayers Rock Resort features 1,000 drones. The storyline was developed in association with Indigenous elders and tells the story of the ancient rock through lasers and sound.

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Southern Ocean Lodge, South Australia

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia is due to reopen on December 6, two years after the award-winning Baillie Lodges’ flagship property was destroyed by bushfires.

Snorkel past the Ocean Sentinels, The Museum of Underwater Art’s (MOUA) newest sculptures on the Great Barrier Reef’s ocean floor. The third underwater installation at MOUA has been specifically placed for snorkellers, whilst the earlier two exhibits lie in wait for divers.

Warders Hotel, one of Fremantle, Western Australia’s most historic accommodation offerings, has reopened its doors after a multi-million-dollar restoration. The circa- 1850s former Warders Cottages have been transformed into boutique accommodation.

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Light Towers, King’s Canyon, Northern Territory

Renowned British light artist Bruce Munro’s Light Towers is set inside Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon. The 69 towers in the display are each made up of around 220 bottles filled with fibre optic cables.

The new Willow Wood Glamping retreat, an eco-tent glamping site a short drive north of Western Australia’s Margaret River, offers a luxury eco experience, with private copper outdoor baths and sunset views.

Nestled amongst acres of vineyards in the heart of Mclaren Vale, 45 minutes from Adelaide, is Divine Domes. The individually themed domes include king-size beds, full ensuites, fireplaces and claw foot baths. A communal barn features a barbeque, pizza oven and fireplace.

The W Sydney will be the group’s third Australian property when it opens near Darling Harbour on October 12.