A Virgin Australia Boeing 777

Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia have signed a strategic AUD$6 million marketing memorandum of understanding aimed at using the airline’s growing network of international alliances to boost visitation from ten of Australia’s key overseas markets.

Under the new arrangement, the two parties intend to collectively spend AUD$6 million over the next three years on a range of joint marketing activities focusing primarily on the USA, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Continental Europe and the fast-growing Asian markets of China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Singapore.

The arrangement will feature marketing on traditional and digital media platforms as well as event and sponsorship activities, principally targeting the United States – Australia’s fourth largest and still key Trans Pacific corridor for leisure and business travel.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the arrangement is further evidence of the national tourism agency’s ability, under its expanding aviation development remit, to work effectively with key airline partners on commercially focused marketing activities that promote and open up greater access from Australia’s most important inbound tourism markets.

“Neither Tourism Australia nor the airlines alone can do all the heavy lifting to promote affordable and ‘must now’ travel from overseas visitors to our country,” McEvoy said.

“In today’s global village – with unprecedented destination competition – arrangements such as this with Virgin Australia and their global alliance partners is a massive value-add, and so important to better sell Australia.

“Virgin Australia continues to increase capacity across a number of Tourism Australia’s core markets, either directly or through alliances with Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines.

“The airline also operates an extensive domestic and Trans Tasman network and is therefore a key partner we want to work more closely with to leverage more visitors to see why there is nothing like Australia.

“As with previous airline deals, we intend to use our well-established and successful there’s nothing like Australia campaign messaging alongside Virgin Australia’s compelling brand and competitive airfares, to drive bookings and traffic,” he said.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said: “As a result of our growing international operations and our recently formed alliances with four of the world’s leading airlines Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia is now a serious player in the inbound tourism market.

“In conjunction with our partners, we have the ability to access international visitors from over 400 cities around the world and provide them with a seamless journey to domestic and regional destinations across Australia.

“The alliances give us access to both traditional and emerging markets, which aligns with Tourism Australia’s marketing strategy.

“This includes key international growth markets such as Asia and the Middle East, which are forecast to be the two largest contributors to international passenger growth going forward, as well as strong established markets such as New Zealand, the United States and Europe.

“Virgin Australia is committed to working with its partners and Tourism Australia to achieve strong international visitor growth for Australia,” Borghetti said.

Tourism Australia has now secured cooperative marketing relationships with most of the largest international carriers by capacity serving Australia.

McEvoy said markets covered by this arrangement align strongly with Tourism Australia’s balanced portfolio approach and are critical to Australian tourism achieving the Tourism 2020 strategic goal of doubling annual overnight visitor expenditure to up to A$140 billion by decade’s end.

Tourism Accommodation Australia Managing Director Rodger Powell has cautiously welcomed the partnership.

“This partnership will add to Tourism Australia’s existing presence in a number of key markets including the USA and help generate new interest in Australia as a holiday destination,” Powell said.

“Virgin’s domestic network will also help to ensure the benefits of this activity are spread across a number of tourism regions throughout Australia.

“The [Federal] Government’s decision to increase the Passenger Movement Charge by 17% from 1 July will pose an unexpected challenge to this partnership while ensuring that visitors who still come to Australia have less money in their pockets to spend once they get here.

“The increase was a cynical and short-sighted decision to raid the tourism industry for funds to shore up the Government’s promised surplus. It fails to take into account the already increased cost pressures the industry is facing as a result of the high Australian dollar.”

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management

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