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Australia Welcomes Back ‘The World’

All eyes are on Australia! Australia has never been so isolated from the world as the past 2 years. However, on the 21st of February, the border will open again. Our very own Sonja Söderbom, Director of Destination Management for Ovation Australia DMC shares her insights into the current state of the industry in the country and her predictions for the upcoming months.

 

Sonja Australia opens borders

Sonja Söderbom

 

 

First; how are you? Are you excited that Australia is opening up to the world again?

 

Let’s just say that after what has been a rollercoaster for the past 2 years this is an excellent start to 2022.  As a country and industry, we are so excited about Australian borders opening to the world on 21 February 2022. Since the announcement a week ago, the energy within the Australian business events industry has elevated. Moreover, the interest and warm sentiments coming in from clients around the globe have been amazing.

 

What impact have the border closures had on Australian business events?

 

It goes without saying that the Australian business events industry has really felt COVID’s impact. However, everyone around the world has in some way or another. Business Events Agencies and Tourism operators have reduced staffing levels. Additionally, they have had to close their doors which is very sad to see. Change is inevitable at this scale. Therefore, it is crucial to be agile, diversify, and stay present. It’s easy to tell a client that they can’t travel to Australia and then switch off. However, staying relevant and connected has been a top priority of our team. We knew the borders would open. Thus, ee wanted to be armed and ready to welcome our clients back with even more creative ideas and bespoke experiences to share.

 

What markets/countries do you believe will be the first to return to Australia for their business event once the borders open?

 

We are and have seen continual interest from the USA. Clients are keen to travel down under for several reasons. We often hear it is a bucket list destination and this is evident when we observe anticipated attendee numbers for incentive programs exceeding previous years. Additionally, some cases double when Australia is on the table. Australia has always been a safe destination. They love the warmth of Australian people with wide-open spaces. These characteristics are attractive when hosting meetings, incentives, or events. In addition to this, we have already seen clients from the USA, UK, and Spain with their programs on hold. They are eager to start planning again and move forward with in-person site inspections in the coming months.

 

Do you believe business travel will return to the levels it was three or four years ago? What do you estimate?

 

From what I can see at the moment, the interest in Australia is increasing. The inquiries are coming in and I think that in 2023 we will be on our road to recovery for sure. Moreover, we hope that by 2024 we will be managing the same number of programs if not more than what we did before the pandemic. The future is looking bright and we look forward to being on the show to the world again.

 

In many countries, we have seen a shift to Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism during the pandemic. What would you say is Australia´s position on this matter?

 

Australia has always held a strong focus on sustainable tourism and Eco tourism with so many of the Australian attractions being natural wonders of the world.  It is our responsibility as a destination management company to support local and also educate our clients on the positive impact they can make when exploring our country.  Tourism Australia is incredible at driving industry awareness and education, and our suppliers are becoming eco-certified and making a commitment to sustainable practices from zero plastics onsite to getting involved with the Paris Agreement.   We all need to play our part to protect, restore our natural environment and culture so that they can be enjoyed today as well as for our future generations.

 

Australia ecotourism

Koala

 

 

What is new that people can look forward to seeing when they come to Australia?

 

There is so much to show our clients, whilst we may not have been able to welcome people into Australia we have been very busy reinventing ourselves with new luxury hotels such as Crown Sydney opening during the pandemic as well as a number of new hotels planned to open in 2022 across the country.  We are getting our first Kimpton Hotel in Sydney, there is a new build Langham on the Gold Coast as well as a new build St Regis opening in Melbourne to name just a few.  Not only are there new hotels, but there are also new restaurants and venues to be seen which are changing our city skylines and giving our clients a lot more choice and something different if they have been here before.

 

As an incentive destination, we will not only be able to share the classics that everyone loves but will also have the opportunity to see the brand new products being introduced to the market. We can’t wait to welcome and show all the new things on offer for an upcoming incentive, meeting, or event.

 

Discover everything Australia has to offer and start planning your return!

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