By James Wilkinson in Adelaide

The most senior tourism leaders in Australia say the nation needs to be ready for the post-coronavirus recovery – and absolutely will be – once the global crisis tapers off, with major marketing initiatives locked and ready to go.

A key element of that is a new global marketing campaign which Tourism Australia unveiled at the organisation’s ‘Destination Australia’ conference in Adelaide today (Mar 12), which Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison, said was about being prepared for the travel bounce-back.

“We know we don’t want to go ‘dark’ because when this is over, people are going to want to travel and the recovery can be as sharp as the fall,” she told the crowd of over 300 Australian tourism leaders.

“This isn’t the first time the industry has faced a crisis and it won’t be the last time.

“We have to keep an eye on the long-term picture [because] we are resilient and we will bounce back,” Harrison said.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison.

She said the ‘There’s still nothing like Australia’ campaign was about capturing the hearts of global travellers because inevitably, people will want to travel once the coronavirus crisis abides.

Tourism Australia has also been actively promoting domestic tourism on the back of the devastating bushfires earlier this year. Efforts will be ramped-up on the back of the Australian Government’s AUD$17.6 billion economic stimulus package announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, said past experience from various crises showed destinations need to be ready to capture the traveller when they are ready to explore once more.

“We must invest in the recovery,” Birmingham said, “because we know from past experiences the bounce-back can be strong, but it also will be competitive.

“When SARS happened {in 2003}, we saw the recovery happened very swiftly.

“That’s of course what we hope for this time, but we know the duration [this time] is going to be much longer.

“As we look to that recovery, we need to invest and ensure the support is there to get flight capacity to Australia back on board as quickly as possible.

Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham

“We need to make sure Tourism Australia is there in the international markets – with our State and Territory and other commercial partners – to inspire bookings to recover as quickly as possible.”

Birmingham encouraged attendees to remain positive in these challenging times.

“Think positively that we will come out the other side,” he said. “That the demand for destinations like Australia will be as strong, if not stronger than ever, after this crisis.

“We need to be planning to make sure we take advantage of those opportunities at that time and your input and support for doing so will be crucial.”

Tourism Australia Chair, Bob East

Tourism Australia Chair, Bob East, said these are “incredibly interesting times” and the world was currently “facing something quite remarkable”.

“We are in the midst of something that we know is going to be difficult for our industry,” he said.

“But we are a resilient industry and we have been through these things before.

“The world has an incredible desire to travel and the world will continue to travel.

“It will be a challenging period, but we know with certainty that people want to move and their desire to move around the world will be so much more intense than there ever was before because clearly there is going to be some lack of movement for a period of time,” East said.

He said the Australian travel industry needed to be united to “get through this together”.

“We need to make sure that we are the first out of the blocks,” East said. “We need to make sure we are first in market, best in market and most united in market and sing from the same one voice.

“We have to calibrate our marketing to a point where we are ready to go when the world is ready to receive our message,” he said.

It was also revealed at Destination Australia that a decision had not yet been made to postpone or cancel the 2020 Australian Tourism Exchange, scheduled held in Melbourne during May.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management