Tourism Australia has appointed John O’Sullivan as its new Managing Director, following the departure of Andrew McEvoy in late 2013.
O’Sullivan, who has significant experience in the major events sector, joins Tourism Australia from Fox Sports where he is currently employed as Chief Operating Officer.
Previously he held executive positions with Events Queensland (Chief Executive from 2010 to 2012), and Football Federation Australia (Chief Commercial Officer from 2004 to 2010) as well as the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1994 World Masters Games. He is also a current member of the Tourism Transport Forum (TTF) Advisory Board.
Tourism Australia Chairman Geoff Dixon said O’Sullivan was an experienced and highly respected business leader, with significant tourism and events experience as well as a proven record of having managed large and complex organisations.
“We’re delighted to have found someone of the calibre and vision of John, who comes to Tourism Australia with a strong reputation for leading and developing high performing organisations,” Dixon said.
“John has an obvious passion for our country and, combined with his deep industry knowledge, experience and skills, is ideally suited to lead an already strong team,” he said.
Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, thanked McEvoy for his service and welcomed O’Sullivan’s appointment.
“Andrew McEvoy has done a fantastic job for Australian tourism and can feel very proud of the outstanding contribution he has made in his four years leading the team at Tourism Australia,” he said. “On his watch, he has helped establish a clear strategic direction for the industry.
“Australian tourism is growing, is well respected and more unified than it has been in a long time.
“It’s a good time to hand over the baton and, in John, I feel confident the Tourism Australia Board has found the right person to take things forward,” Robb said.
O’Sullivan said he felt extremely privileged to have been given the opportunity to head up a Tourism Australia team which was deservedly viewed as one of the world’s most effective national tourism organisations.
“Having the opportunity to take on this position at such an exciting and pivotal time for the Industry is a great honour,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with the team at Tourism Australia and across industry stakeholders, continuing to build on the momentum created to drive opportunity and growth towards 2020.
“Tourism is rightly starting to be acknowledged as a key driver of our country’s future growth and prosperity and I look forward to being part of that exciting journey,” he said.
Industry associations and hotel chains have also welcomed O’Sullivan’s appointment.
Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath said: “John has some impressive experience particularly in events which makes him well suited to tackle the next wave of tourism which has an increasing focus on major domestic and international events.
“John is a great fit for where our industry is heading and his ability to bring partners together is well renowned.
“We would expect John to build on and enhance the great work and commitment to Australian tourism undertaken by Andrew McEvoy,” McGrath said.
Tourism Accommodation Australia Managing Director, Rodger Powell, said O’Sullivan was an impressive replacement to Andrew McEvoy, who had kicked considerable goals in a very difficult market environment.
“The TA Board and Minister Robb are to be congratulated on attracting a high calibre candidate for our industries most important role,” he said.
“Australia has just seen the benefits to tourism of major sporting events such as the Ashes cricket, the Australian Open and the Tour Down Under, and to have a Managing Director as proficient in this field as John O’Sullivan will significantly benefit the tourism industry.
“If new hotels are to be developed and existing ones upgraded, the decision to invest will be based on demand generators such as major events, business events and creative inbound marketing.
“We know that John has a good understanding of, and proactive relationships with, the Accommodation sector and that as the Tourism Industries second largest revenue, jobs and tax contributor, he will engage at an even greater level.
“Our hotel members both in city and regional areas are reporting how powerful well-organised events can be for boosting their local economies. However, attracting major events, large-scale conferences and exhibitions is becoming increasingly competitive around the world, so Australia has to be at the top of its game to win these tenders.
“We are fortunate that Australia has quality event infrastructure already in place, and this will improve even further when the new Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre is completed.
“John comes into the role at a time when the Australian dollar is finally readjusting to more usual levels, and this will give a great opportunity to reinvigorate some of our ‘traditional’ inbound markets such as America, Europe and Japan, which are also showing tentative signs of emerging from their long economic slowdowns.
“It is the perfect time to build our presence further in these markets, while also continuing Australia’s successful, innovative marketing and promotion in Asia. There may have been changes to the China market in recent months, but with the maturing of the outbound market there, Australia is well-placed to attract more experienced, higher-yielding travellers seeking unique attractions and destinations.
“Tourism has enormous potential for Australia in its post mining boom era, and we look forward to working closely with John O’Sullivan and the Tourism Australia team to maximise the Accommodation sector’s contribution to the economy,” Powell said.
TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said O’Sullivan was an ideal choice for the TA top job.
“John O’Sullivan has a great background in tourism and major events in both the public and private sectors and is well-known and respected in the tourism industry,” he said.
“He brings more than two decades of experience to the role and will be able to ensure that Tourism Australia’s success in promoting Australia as a must-see destination around the world continues.
“The industry welcomes John’s appointment and looks forward to him building on Andrew McEvoy’s legacy, which has not only seen Tourism Australia recognised globally with a raft of international awards and has also seen growth in international arrivals to Australia over the past few years despite challenging global conditions,” he said.
Morrison said tourism makes a massive contribution to the Australian economy.
“Tourism directly employs more than 530,000 Australians in more than 280,000 tourism businesses across the country and generated almost $110 billion in economic activity last year,” he said.
“On top of this, tourism has been identified as a key growth sector that will be able to deliver jobs, business opportunities and future prosperity for Australia and industry is working with government to double overnight tourism expenditure to $140 billion by 2020.
“John understands the value of tourism and its potential to help the Australian economy as the mining investment boom slows and we are looking forward to working with John when he takes up the role at the end of March.”
Tourism Australia Executive General Manager International, Frances-Anne Keeler will hold the role of Acting Managing Director until O’Sullivan takes up his position in late March 2014.