All eyes on Australia! Never has Australia been so isolated from the world as the past 2 years, but on 21 February the border will open again. Our very own Sonja Söderbom, Director of Destination Management for Ovation Australia DMC shares her insight on the current state of the industry in the country and her predictions for the upcoming months.
First; how are you? Are you excited that Australia is opening up to the world again?
Let’s just say after what has been a rollercoaster for the past 2 years this is a great start to 2022. As a country and industry, we are so excited about the 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 and the interest and warm sentiments coming in from clients around the globe has 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 the impact of COVID, but to be fair everyone around the world has in some way or another. Business Events Agencies and Tourism operators have been forced to reduce staffing levels or close their doors which is very sad to see. What comes with change especially at this scale is the importance of being agile, diversifying, and staying present. It’s easy to say to a client you can’t travel to Australia and then just switch off but staying relevant and connecting has been at the forefront for our team because we knew at some point the borders would open and we 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 out of the USA. Clients are keen to travel down under for a few reasons, we often hear it is a bucket list destination and this is evident when we see anticipated attendee numbers for incentive programs exceed their previous years and in some cases double in size when Australia is on the table. Australia has always been seen as a safe destination, they love the warmth of the Australian people and with wide-open spaces available this will be attractive when hosting meetings, incentives, or events. In addition to this, we have already seen those clients from the USA, UK, and Spain that had their programs on hold 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 more and more, the inquiries are coming in and I think that come 2023 we will be on our road to recovery for sure and 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.
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!