Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison believes there is a golden opportunity for the industry to make Aussies fall in love with domestic travel just as much as going overseas.
Speaking virtually at Travel DAZE 2020 yesterday, Harrison acknowledged that while there is a real ‘bragability’ among Australians when it comes to venturing offshore, there is an “opportunity of a generation, almost” to show them amazing things to see and do in their own backyard.
“I don’t think we’ll stop people going offshore – we are a nation of travellers – but I think we can show people that you can have an incredible experience here too,” she told attendees.
“And I think we have really open ears with the Australian consumers at the moment for that.”
Harrison also said that travel agents are a “really important part of the mix” when it comes to attracting offshore travellers towards domestic holidays and experiences.
“Offshore, they always have been, and now that we’re focused on domestic, we really want to bring agents in,” she explained.
“And where agents really come to the fore is in those longer, more complex itineraries. So, those are the kinds of things we’re trying to showcase and get people doing.
“So, rather than just a beach holiday, which potentially people do book direct – though not always – showcasing those different and interesting experiences, and just showing that when they’re with a travel agent, they’re well looked after.”
Harrison said Tourism Australia has already promoted the value of agents in some of the print and social media elements of its latest campaign, and revealed that the organisation will be releasing more content soon that communicates the benefits of booking through an agent.
“As always, we’re open to suggestions as well,” she added.
Harrison also went into detail on Tourism Australia’s ‘Stages of Recovery’ model for COVID-19, which she said helped the organisation navigate what is a “really changeable dynamic and volatile period of time”.
Harrison said Tourism Australia will be looking at the next 10 years in two phases.
“One is the recovery period and what are we going to do over that period of time, and that’s going to be a little bit more opportunistic, if you’d like, and just being active where there is opportunity; and then what does the long term look like?” she explained.
“We are working on a project at the moment called Tourism Futures, and we will be sharing the outputs of that.
“It’s going to be a dynamic model that is going to be able to change over time, because one thing we do know is that we just don’t know what is coming up next.”
Harrison also pointed to a lot of off-the-shelf research that is accessible to Tourism Australia, and the organisation is using it to try and work out is what is a “sticky change” (what is going to be here for the long term) and what is “just of a moment”.
“We think there is a bit of both in there, but we do know for sure that a crisis does accelerate a trend, and there are two trends that we do think are here to stay.
“One is telling our Indigenous stories. It is such an opportunity globally,” she said.
“Prior to the lockdown, probably about 20 per cent of people who came to Australia had an Indigenous experience, and that was growing by about six per cent every year. And part of that is accessibility to some great, authentic new products that are out there.
“But we really are committed at Tourism Australia to telling our incredible Indigenous story and celebrating that rich history, and the fact that we are part of the oldest living culture on Earth – it’s just an incredible proposition. So, we are looking at how we ramp that up over the next period of time.”
The other trend that has been “incredibly important” for Tourism Australia and will continue to be going forward is leaving a light footprint when people travel.
“Our sustainability strategy is underway at the moment, and it’s really going to focus on advocacy and education,” Harrison said.
“Where our focus will likely be is on telling those sustainable stories to our global audiences and providing education on best practice for people.”
Harrison’s Travel DAZE presentation is available to watch in full, on demand HERE.
And, there are still plenty more speakers to come this week as part of the virtual conference. Check out when they will be featuring HERE.