Arrivals up but Australia still waits for Brand USA

Arrivals up but Australia still waits for Brand USA
By admin

Australians desire to travel to the US remains as strong as ever with arrivals projected to rise another 8% this year, it has emerged.

Figures from Visit USA (Australia) predict 1.12 million Aussies travelled to the US last year, up 8% on 2011, with similar growth expected in 2013 as the favourable exchange rate and cheap airfares continue to resonate with consumers.

The rising numbers have helped offset frustration within the industry that Brand USA – the public private partnership formed to promote travel to the US – has yet to visit or launch in Australia.

Visit USA (Australia) president Geoffrey Hutton, speaking to Travel Today at a media event in Sydney to launch Visit USA week, predicted the growth will continue well into the future.

"There is still a lot happening with new product and there are so many relationships between Australia and the US that I think the numbers are only going to get better," he said.

"Over the past 20 years we have never had negative growth."

Not only are Australians visiting in increasing numbers – it is the 10th largest market for the US – they are staying longer, spending more and visiting more states than most other markets, Hutton said.

"Australians are into experiential travel and the US offers that, not just packages," he added.

Hutton declined to comment on the delay or the failure of Brand USA to become involved in this week's series of trade events in Australia.

But it is generally thought that while the growth in departures to the US is pleasing, they could be even healthier had Brand USA moved faster and invested sooner in Australia.

A tender process is underway, with a local agency to represent the organisation expected to be appointed in early April.

But that timetable is some way behind the original schedule.

At US trade show Pow Wow last year, Brand USA's then chief marketing officer Chris Perkins predicted that a promotional campaign could start in Australia as early as June. That did not materialise – and Australia is still waiting to see any marketing material.

The frustration intensified this week with some believing Brand USA missed a golden opportunity to visit Australia as part of Visit USA week, the largest such event to have been held locally.

Changes in Brand USA management, which followed a congressional report detailing "waste and cronyism" at the organisation, have hampered the roll out of the multi-million dollar marketing campaign, observers said.

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