Though numbers are strong for Australian tourism, there is still more work to be done in reaching first time visitors, said John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia.
International arrivals are up 8.2% for Australia and visitor expenditure has increased by $5.5 billion, year-on-year.
“Even though it’s great to have repeats, you’ve got to have a new funnel of people coming in,” O’Sullivan said at Australian Tourism Exchange 2016 (ATE) in the Gold Coast, Queensland, on Monday. “First time visitors is the thing we need to push in these [European] markets.”
He added: “European markets are really important to us. They disperse, [offer a] high yield and have a great affinity for Australia. The UK will always be a critical market for us.”
An improving economy, improved aviation capacity and increased consumer confidence in the UK has helped the source market get back on track to break the 700,000 visitor mark, O’Sullivan noted.
The main challenge the tourism board now faces is the intensity of international competition, he said.
But all the signs are pointing towards a bumper 2016. “We’re at an eight-year high in terms of registrations [at ATE]. The event is actually sold out.”
Aside from maintaining a focus on food and wine, which O’Sullivan referred to as a “critical factor”, the tourism board has launched a new focus on fishing. “We’ve learned that 5% of all visitors to Australia come for a fishing experience. It fits well with our coastal and aquatic and premium focuses.”
Steven Ciobo, Australia’s minister for trade and investment, added: “The value proposition has never been stronger. We know there’s a high level of aspiration to visit Australia and we’re very excited about Australia’s tourism industry.”