Australia Meets US Travel Leaders at Marketplace Event

This week saw the welcome return of Tourism Australia’s Marketplace North America event for the first time in three years, with Australian industry leaders meeting US travel agents and tour operators in person at the Westdrift Hotel. Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles.

From August 7-9, this high-energy three-day event was organized by Tourism Australia and sponsored by Qantas, American Airlines, Destination New South Wales and Tourism Queensland.

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The excitement was palpable among the 102 buyer and 107 seller delegations present. The Marketplace event allowed business partners on both sides of the Pacific to reconnect after being separated for so long due to the pandemic. After two years of strict border closures for Australia, there were plenty of new developments to catch up on.

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The affair kicked off on Sunday afternoon, with an on-stage presentation of the North American market update by some of the highest brass in Australia’s tourism industry. Speakers included Tourism Australia Chief Executive Phillipa Harrison; Executive Managing Director, Strategy and Research, Rob Dougan; Tourism Australia’s Vice President for the Americas, Chris Allison; and Senator Don Farrell, Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism.

The keynote presentation also included contributions from a panel of five senior executives: Matt Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages Indigenous Tourism; John O’Sullivan, CEO of Experience Co.; Paul McGrath, CEO of YHA; Kate Shilling, CEO of Ultimate Winery Experiences CEO; Experience Co-CEO, John O’Sullivan; and Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Global Operations, Michael Londregan.

“We have started the hard work to bring Americans back to Australia,” Harrison said. “It’s such an important market for us, it’s always been an important market for us and I can tell you that we’re going to continue to invest very heavily.”

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Ballroom set up for the Tourism Australia Marketplace North America 2022 event. (Photo by Laurie Baratti)

“The United States was Australia’s third-largest source market for international visits and the second-most valuable for spending, with 818,000 Americans traveling to Australia in 2019 and spending $3.9 billion,” the minister said. Tourism. Referring to the Prime Minister’s newly installed administration, Farrell added: “The Albanian government is committed to helping Australia’s tourism industry return to the economic power we know and to ensure the world knows that Australia is open for business.

One could easily have assumed that Australian tourism bodies and industry operators simply closed their doors during the pandemic, but that turns out to be far from the truth. Instead, national, territorial, and regional destination marketing organizations and various businesses involved in tourism were making the most of their downtime, positioning themselves for the day when those borders would finally open.

Chris Allison, Tourism Australia’s vice president for the Americas, said the agency had continued its efforts over the past two years. “We didn’t want to back down significantly, so we maintained our investments in the market to enable us to keep content in front of consumers, to keep them inspired and dreaming of trips to Australia in the future when we opened” , did he declare. . “And, on the advisor side, we have remained very active with our Aussie Specialist program to keep people informed, educated and engaged in our destination.”

In the first four weeks of Australia reopening on February 21, the government rolled out its $40 million marketing blitz, centered around the slogan “Don’t Go Small. Go to Australia. The tagline was strategically chosen to tap into consumers’ current appetite for big, one-size-fits-all travel, after being limited to relatively local destinations during the pandemic.

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Panel of Australian travel industry CEOs speaking at the Tourism Australia Marketplace North America 2022 event. (Photo by Laurie Baratti)

“Australia has always been a bucket list destination, so I think right now we have this huge trend of people really reassessing their destination priorities, looking at what they would have considered their destinations of bucket list in the future and prioritizing them to do now. So this is a great opportunity for us,” Allison told TravelPulse.

He also teased, “Later this year, in October, we will be launching a brand new campaign in all of our major international markets. We will invite everyone back to Australia, now that we are reopening, and invite everyone to ‘Come and Say G’day’.

On the second and third days of the event, participants engaged in a series of individual meetings, organized in eight-minute appointments. The sellers stood still, while the buyers moved from table to table at their allotted time, in a kind of speed-dating style setup. A handy app from Tourism Australia helped attendees keep track of their meeting times and also provided networking information about all attendees, as well as a chat facility. But, as always, it was the in-person item that proved invaluable.

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Meetings taking place at the Tourism Australia Marketplace North America 2022 event. (Photo by Laurie Baratti)

“Australia Marketplace offers our tourism operators the opportunity to build business relationships with leading qualified travel agencies and tour operators in North America,” Harrison told Hotel Management. “These connections are so vital to the Australian tourism industry, as we seek to rebuild after being one of the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the reopening of borders six months ago, Tourism Australia has made a huge push to reinvigorate the sector’s recovery in key tourism markets and regain its pre-pandemic momentum. Among the many industry events the agency hosts are upcoming Marketplace events for other regions.

Tourism Australia Marketplace Japan & Korea will take place from September 26-30, Tourism Australia Marketplace UK & Europe is scheduled for November 14-15. Excitement is also building to return in person for the 43rd edition of the Australian Tourism Exchange, to be held on the Gold Coast from April 30 to May 4, 2023.


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