It’s all about the Visitor Experience (Good Weekend)
Fairfax has just published another critical summary of the state of tourism in Australia. The article featured on the front cover of Good Weekend – a well respected publication that is inserted in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald every Saturday.
The tourism industry has supported Good Weekend and their travel initiatives over the decades, regularly advertising things to see and do across this great country, and for good reason: it reaches Opinion Leaders in our nation’s two most populous cities.
Destination Melbourne is all for considered debate how we can improve the quality of the visitor experience. We recognise the need for new thinking about how tourism in Australia works, but we are seriously weary of Sydney-centric (and regional Queensland-biased) diatribes about the parlous state of tourism.
Andrew McEvoy, CEO Tourism Australia, was the sole voice of reason in the article. He gets it – people go on holiday to have a good time. They are turned off by lobbyists bemoaning the state of the industry. The article was littered with the opinions of slightly grumpy and opinionated former CEOs. A tip to the wise: if you want to want to know what went wrong with your marriage ask your ex… If you want to know how to make it right, talk to your current partner.
The tourism industry has faced several challenges over the last decade: September 11, the Ansett collapse; various outbreaks of influenza; bushfires; floods; currency exchange crises and so on. This series of setbacks is not going to end – there will always be another reason our businesses are not performing – the biggest single barrier to success is a lack of focus on the needs of our visitors. Every time our ‘leaders’ talk publicly about what is wrong with tourism, we create doubt in the minds of our best customers – the locals.
Australians love the underdog, they respect resilience – if you are going through tough times they will respond positively if you are able to demonstrate that you are having a go. If you want to lose support from the people who drive the visiting friends and relatives market (the host) and are deciding whether to holiday locally or overseas, just start whingeing.
Melbourne is the most popular holiday destination in the country (source: Roy Morgan). We outrank Sydney, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. This is partly due to the work Tourism Victoria do producing great brand campaigns such as Play Melbourne. It is also because the tourism industry works together supporting Brand Melbourne; the community has a growing appreciation of the contribution visitors make to our economy; and we are a relatively safe and welcoming city.
Yes, there is room for improvement, but we are working together on the premise that the glass is half full. Every person that chooses to visit our beautiful city gives us a vote of confidence. We are grateful for their support. It is up to us an industry to show more positive leadership and debate our challenges out of the spotlight… not in the national media.