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Saturday,  May 25, 2024 12:28 PM 

More Canadians saying 'G'day' to Australia

More Canadians saying 'G'day' to Australia
Of Tourism Australia: Paul Larcher, account director; Lisa Wooldridge, director of marketing – The Americas; Robert Keddy, head of commercial partnerships – The Americas.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Canada continues to “punch above its weight” in terms of both visitor arrivals to Australia and travel agent knowledge of the destination, two key takeaway points from a Tourism Australia information evening held in Toronto last night.

The tourism board welcomed agents and travel partners to hear the latest visitor statistics and learn more about Tourism Australia’s 2016 marketing initiatives.

Robert Keddy, Tourism Australia’s head of commercial partnerships for The Americas, told PAX that this past July saw a 17.3 per cent jump in Canadian arrivals (Canada ranks 13th internationally in terms of leisure arrivals, Keddy said), a substantial increase in visitors from the market which he attributes in large part to increased airlift, particularly Air Canada’s Vancouver-Brisbane flight which launched in June. Additional flights by Air New Zealand and Qantas have also helped boost arrivals, he said.

“It’s pretty extraordinary,” Keddy said. “We managed to maintain our arrivals more or less on flat capacity, and now we’ve got Air Canada’s new flight which has been huge for us."

The board’s current marketing campaign - which has tapped Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth as its official ambassador - is centred on five pillars, Keddy said; in addition to the country’s leisure and business event opportunities, indigenous tourism and luxury sectors, the main two thrusts of the current campaign are the country’s food and wine and Australia’s aquatic and coastal attractions.

According to Lisa Wooldridge, director of marketing – The Americas, while repeat visitors are often quick to praise Australia’s culinary offerings, their reputation is still relatively unknown to travellers making their first trip to the land downunder.

“People fall in love with Australian food and wine,” she said, “but most people who haven’t been there don’t know about it.”

Regarding the promotion of the country’s natural features, Keddy said that the time was right to remind travellers of such famed tourism draws as the Great Barrier Reef, after research by the board indicated that such attractions may have “lost some of their lustre” in the eyes of tourists.

“We absolutely needed to bring those back to the forefront,” Keddy told PAX, “because these are incredible experiences. We have an extremely long coast line with amazing reefs and excellent diving, and the aquatic wildlife is outstanding.”

Those aquatic experiences also factor heavily into the virtual reality aspect of Tourism Australia’s marketing, which can be viewed via an app available to both Apple and Android users, Wooldridge said. This virtual reality component has generated more than 200,000 Canadian visits to the board’s website in search of those experiences and the VR campaign was also the main feature of a recent pop-up event in Vancouver, co-hosted by Air New Zealand.

And similar to the increasing numbers of Canadian arrivals, Keddy said the travel agent community in Canada boasts a relatively large amount of certified Aussie Specialists, 493 to be exact, of which 12 have reached the board’s Premiere level.