ATE24 reveals Australia’s new tourism landscape

Australian Tourism Exchange speakers report massive growth and new markets

The 2024 edition of the Australian Tourism Exchange is the largest in the event’s 44-year history. The largest trade show in the Southern Hemisphere kicked off today [Monday 20 May], bringing together 2,600 delegates at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre.

More than 50,000 appointments are expected to be conducted throughout the four-day event, which has attracted record numbers of Australian tourism sellers and international buyers from 37 countries. Delivered by Tourism Australia in partnership with Visit Victoria, ATE24 showcases Australia’s diverse tourism offerings and helps local tourism operators secure future business.

Opening speakers provided delegates with an update on the current Australian tourism landscape, delivered by Phillipa Harrison, MD of Tourism Australia; Hon. Don Farrell, Federal Minister of Trade and Tourism and Special Minister of State; and Steve Dimopoulos, Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.

The Tourism Australia stand at ATE 2024

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Post-pandemic tourism recovery

Don Farrell, Federal Minister of Trade and Tourism said: “There’s no doubt that Australian tourism, and the tourism industry, has been through some tough times over the past few years, not least, of course, is the COVID pandemic. But the good news is that the industry is recovering well.”

Farrell cited a positive and growing contingent of UK visitors and international travellers who want to holiday and work in Australia.

“In fact, I predict that by the end of this year, our tourism numbers will exceed the pre-COVID levels,” declared Farrell.

New markets of growth

Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, identified India and Korea as key markets demonstrating inbound traveller numbers that exceed pre-pandemic levels, while other markets are taking a little longer to recover.

“China is an exceptionally large market for us,” said Harrison. “We had a great Chinese New Year, and [recovery] percentages are sitting in the 70s now, so we’re really positive about that market – and in fact, all markets.”

As an island nation, Harrison tapped aviation – both domestic and international – as the key to the country’s continued tourism growth. New routes, such as those launched by Turkish Airlines between Istanbul and Melbourne, and direct connections between Perth and London, Rome and Paris – which launch this July for the Olympics – by Qantas, have played an integral role in increasing visitor growth to pre-pandemic traveller numbers.

“Our aviation is sitting back at around 100%,” said Harrison of the recovery level to 2019.

“With new routes coming in, we have more direct connectivity with India and Korea than we’ve ever had before. Chinese carriers are all coming back and we’re seeing around 90% [recovered capacity] from China.”

Tourism Australia also reported 236 new hotel openings since 2020.

Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director, Tourism Australia

Current Australian tourism trends

Tourism Australia’s MD also outlined focus areas for the year ahead, pointing to the development of premium Indigenous tourism offerings, cruising and self-drive holidays as emerging trends.

“We’re focusing on building our Indigenous tourism offering from a premium point of view. Australia has always been a premium destination, but we do premium a little bit differently here in Australia,” said Harrison.

“It’s really about a sense of place, and our unique and rare contact with our beautiful landscapes. We do believe that at this moment, the world is redefining premium offerings, which leads to wellness and adventure.”

Harrison continued, “We’ve seen a boom in cruising and people discovering our coastline, and beyond that, we’re also seeing a lot more people self-driving, such as Southeast Asian and Chinese markets opting for self-driving, and we have some amazing epic drives that we’re going to start talking a little bit more about on an international stage.”

Luxury travel

Quizzed about the luxury market, Harrison noted that ATE24 services all subsets of the tourism market, from backpackers to luxury travellers, and it does still have a dedicated stream for the luxury market.

“The luxury traveller and buyer is a crucial focus of Tourism Australia, focusing on those who spend more than AUD$1,000 per day in Australia.”

“We have a dedicated stream that just looks after those buyers, just directs them to the product that can cater for their client’s needs, and we do a specific program for them.” She added luxury is a key segment for Tourism Aus.

Harrison also revealed that while Australia’s luxury lodges are oversubscribed and the cities are well-served by luxury products, regional Australia is now being targeted as a key opportunity for growth in the luxury segment.

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