Australian tourism industry leaders met with US travel agencies and tour operators in-person this week to promote Australia as a key tourism destination at Australia Marketplace North America. It was the first time the event has been held in the region since 2019.

Around 200 buyers and sellers were in attendance at the two-day event, which was hosted by Tourism Australia at the Westdrift Hotel Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles from August 7-9.

“It was an opportunity to remind the US and Canada that Australia is open for business and there has never been a better time to ‘Come and Say G’Day’,” said Tourism Australia Regional General Manager for North America, Chris Allison.

“The event attracted key tourism leaders from both the US and Australia and the relationships and future business it will create will be vital for the Australian tourism industry in the future.”

Among those key leaders from the US were Travel Answers Group President, Kirk Demeter; Signature Travel Network President, Alex Sharpe; Flight Centre Americas President, Charlene Leiss; The Travel Corp President, Brett Tollman; and Qantas Sales North America Vice President, Dave Thomas.

Australian tourism leaders that travelled to the event included Experience Co CEO, John O’Sullivan; Voyages Indigenous Tourism CEO, Matt Cameron-Smith; Ultimate Winery Experiences CEO, Kate Shilling; YHA CEO, Paul McGrath; Baillie Lodges COO, Craig Bradber; and Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Michael Londregan.

Australia’s Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell, attended the opening of the event. He highlighted the importance of the US market to Australia and said he looks forward to supporting the recovery of this important industry.  

“The US was Australia’s third largest source market for international visitation and the second most valuable for spend, with 818,000 Americans travelling to Australia in 2019 and spending $3.9 billion,” he said.  

“As the Minister for Trade and Tourism, I look forward to doing everything I can to help the industry recover after a challenging few years.

“The Albanese Government is committed to supporting Australia’s tourism industry to return to the economic powerhouse we know it to be and to ensure that the world knows Australia is open for business.”

As the industry emerges from the pandemic, Tourism Australia Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison, said Australia-US connections are more important than ever.

“Australia Marketplace provides our tourism operators with the opportunity to establish business relationships with key qualified travel agencies and tour operators from North America,” she said.

“These connections are so vital for the Australian tourism industry, as we look to rebuild after being one of the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know the recovery will take time, but we want to get back to those pre-COVID levels as quickly as possible and North America will play a central role in that. In 2019 Australia welcome more than one million visitors from the US and Canada.”

Tourism Australia is planning Australia Marketplace events in other key tourism markets including in Japan/South Korea in September and in UK/Europe in November.