13 May 2020

ACT to conduct biggest tourism campaign ever to kick-start sector

| Dominic Giannini
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The ACT is preparing to conduct its biggest ever tourism campaign when borders reopen to help revitalise Canberra’s economy. Photo: Visit Canberra Twitter.

The ACT Government is preparing to launch its biggest ever tourism campaign when domestic travel restrictions are lifted to help the Territory revive the $2.5 billion industry, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said today.

The campaign follows the ACT Government’s $920,000 ‘One Good Thing After Another’ destination marketing campaign in 2019 aimed at domestic and international travellers.

Mr Barr flagged the campaign would start when Australia’s domestic borders reopened completely as part of the national three-step plan to restart the domestic economy. The Prime Minister has indicated this is likely by July.

Domestic tourists make up 90 per cent of the ACT’s tourism income, a rich vein that the Chief Minister is hoping to tap when state borders reopen.

“If Australians cannot travel overseas, which is likely to be the case for some time now, then we have access to the full domestic tourism market, so there would be potential for domestic tourism to fill the void that the international tourism collapse has created,” Mr Barr said.

“I announced to the Tourism Industry Forum on Monday (11 May) morning that once we are in a position to reopen domestic tourism in Australia, that the ACT will conduct its largest ever domestic tourism campaign.

“We will redirect all of our international resources into domestic marketing. We have been storing up the money we have not been spending for the last five months and there will be a new allocation at the beginning of the new financial year.”

Mr Barr revealed he was talking to New Zealand officials to start direct trans-Tasman flights to Canberra after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined National Cabinet deliberations last week to talk about a possible ‘travel bubble’ between the two countries.

With the added economic help of travellers from across the ditch, the ACT should be able to get its tourism economy back on track despite no prospects of international travel on the horizon, Mr Barr said.

“The prospect of a ‘Tasman bubble’, with travel permitted between Australia and New Zealand, presents a great opportunity to again prosecute the case of connecting Canberra to Wellington and Auckland,” he told Region Media.

“There will be no reason to think that in 12 to 18 months if there were no restrictions internally within Australia, and we were on top of the virus, and we were maintaining our travel safe bubble – possibly including New Zealand – that we could not get our tourism economy back to somewhere near where it was pre-COVID within a couple of years.”

The ACT welcomes around 4.7 million interstate visitors a year, 2.75 million of whom stayed overnight. It also employs almost 17,000 people sector-wide (or about 9 per cent of the Territory’s workforce).

The expanding sector and record numbers prompted the ACT Government to allocate and extra $50 million over four years to boost international and domestic tourism as part of the 2018-19 Budget.

Just over $140 million was spent on events, tourism and investment in the same financial year, while an extra $2.2 million was committed to Brand CBR to promote Canberra as “a great place to work, study and invest”.

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