Tourism Western Australia will capitalise on next year’s World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit being held in Perth to drum up interest in private sector investment in new high-end accommodation in remote parts of the state, while also amplifying Aboriginal tourism initiatives.
Last month, the WTTC confirmed Western Australia would host the 24th Global Summit in late 2024, in partnership with Tourism WA. It will be the first time the WTTC has taken the annual event to the Oceania region.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE, Carolyn Turnbull, Managing Director of Tourism WA, said luring the WTTC Global Summit to Perth in late October was a strategic move to ensure Western Australia “is on the minds of global decision-makers”.
“Having all of the WTTC members, including the likes of Matthew Upchurch of Virtuoso, will ensure WA is front of mind. We’ll use that as an opportunity to narrate our ‘Western Gateway’ narrative and build on the aviation success of 18 international services since the opening of the borders. The summit includes lots of think tanks, panel discussions and opportunities to further build destination awareness,” Turnbull said.
Another key pillar that Tourism WA will focus on at the WTTC conference will be to drill down on private sector investment in ultra-luxury accommodation in remote parts of the state.
“Cruising today is so important for us in the luxury space because outside of some smaller, eco-offerings that are coming up north of the Kimberley, we don’t have a huge amount of ultra-luxury accommodation.
“That’s why the cruising component is so important, so that the onshore experiences can be curated in a high-end manner, but the accommodation onboard is really important.
“Outside of that, we have a lot of different initiatives including our National Park Development Initiative, which is centred around identifying sites and de-risking sites and private sector investment to build high-end accommodation.
Turnbull continued: “We’ll use the sustainability theme to angle and elevate Aboriginal tourism as well.
“We’re on a great pathway to position Western Australia as Australia’s premiere destination for Aboriginal tourism. That’s being achieved through Tourism WA’s strategic vision of the Jina Plan that sets 70 different initiatives, building our current capability of tourism operators in and
around our regions and achieved in partnership with WAITOC (WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council).”
“That is a key pillar that we’ll work in parallel with our overarching luxury narrative, outside of National Parks. Tourism WA is curating an investment prospectus that will set the state up for future development opportunities and pipelines for global operators that haven’t considered WA as part of their development plans.”
“The WTTC Summit will play a big part in solidifying our position on that global stage,” she added.
Turnbull, who is in year three of a five-year contract as the head of Tourism WA, revealed to LATTE that the Summit will likely be hosted at Crown Perth, taking advantage of the ample luxury suite accommodation and conference facilities at the venue for the multi-day event. Optus Stadium and Kings Park are other sites being considered for elements of WTTC’s Global Summit.
The WA Government’s new homegrown event, EverNow, will also be aligned with the Summit so Western Australia’s indigenous culture can “act as a backdrop” when delegates come to Perth, Turnbull revealed.
On the subject of luxury expedition cruising, and the huge season that lies ahead for the Kimberley with multiple new players including Seabourn and Scenic entering the arena, Turnbull believes it provides a great opportunity to engage deeper with the US market.
“We know the US has a really high-end appetite and that’s the core ethos of where our brand positioning is coming from.”
“The US, from a proximity point of view, Western Australia is a far-flung destination, but I think that whets the appetite of the luxury travel advisor in the US that are looking for something for visitors that have already done the typical reef, beach and outback itinerary in Australia.”
“Western Australia is that true experiential offering that Australia hasn’t probably unveiled in the same way over the past couple of years.
“I think the US market is ripe for that type of experience and we work closely with the likes of Virtuoso and Signature Travel Network in the luxury advisor segment.”
Meanwhile, Turnbull said she was confident that Western Australia would return to pre-COVID aviation levels by mid-2024. She said current levels sit around the 90 per cent mark, but with new flights coming in 2024 from Qantas to Paris and Jetstar launching three new capacity ex Perth to Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket, the state should pass levels achieved before the pandemic.
She also flagged with LATTE a potential new route into India.
“It’s only a matter of time before we get a direct flight with India. We’re working hard on that.”
Quizzed as to which airline that may be, Turnbull said: “We’re talking with Air India, Vistara and IndiGo.
“Vistara would be an ideal partner for us, being slightly more premium, and we think that would work really well.”
“While they are emerging under that Tata umbrella, they are still distinctly navigating different route and pipeline opportunities that are different from Air India. But we’ll see where that lands,” she said.
“Equally, we’re talking with Qantas on the possibility of a direct service between Perth and Delhi or Mumbai, or potentially Bangalore.”
“We’re going strong on international, but ensuring we’re equally dedicated to ensuring that the domestic awareness is there as well,” she added.
Lead image: Courtesy of Tourism WA/Facebook