Canberra will play to its natural strengths as the national capital and home to world-class institutions in a bid to become a global destination, under a new tourism strategy launched this month (Sunday, 4 December).
Floored by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Canberra’s tourism industry has been rebounding and the ACT Government’s T2030: ACT Tourism Strategy 2023-2030 says international visitor levels to the ACT are expected to rebound to 2019 levels by 2026, and increase by 363,000 visitors a year by 2030.
The strategy aims to sustainably grow the value of the visitor economy to $3.1 billion by 2025, and $4b by 2030, including both overnight and day-trip expenditure from visitors.
It expects the ACT to return to the pandemic level of $2.5b in overnight visitor expenditure by 2026.
The strategy aims to add more than 4000 jobs to the tourism industry, up from 18,500 to 22,750, and seeks to directly connect Canberra to more cities domestically, and internationally, by air.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been vigorously promoting new air links with New Zealand and the Pacific, as well as lobbying for the return of Singapore Airlines to Canberra.
The strategy does not set out to reinvent the wheel but develop a distinctive Canberra brand focusing on the ACT’s natural assets, reputation for sustainability and institutions such as the National Gallery, National Museum and Australian War Memorial.
Integral to this will be the pipeline of large-scale projects underway or planned, such as the War Memorial expansion, the development of the Ngurra Cultural Precinct at Reconciliation Place, the Canberra Theatre Centre redevelopment and the Kingston arts precinct.
The strategy says the Canberra region can develop iconic destination experiences through these cultural attractions but also its festivals, food and wine offerings, Indigenous cultural experiences and natural environment.
It also envisages Canberra as a business hub.
To do this, the ACT will require 1.76 million additional airline seats (inbound and outbound) at 80 per cent load factors, 776 new rooms at 75 per cent occupancy and 22,750 people employed in the tourism sector.
The strategy aims to raise the profile of current and future attractions, and promote the ACT to its strongest domestic and international markets.
In Australia in the next two years, the ACT will focus on Sydney, regional NSW, Melbourne, regional Victoria, and Brisbane and south-east Queensland.
Internationally, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US will be targeted, with other key Asian markets to be reassessed as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Mr Barr said the Government would release a series of action plans to achieve the strategy’s goals, the first of which in early 2023.
“We want visitors to our city to leave with a greater appreciation for Canberra and to feel fulfilled, educated and wanting to tell others about the quality of the diverse experiences on offer,” he said.
“We also want visitors to think about our city and region as a great place to live, study, work and invest, with a reputation as progressive, inclusive and welcoming to all.
“The ACT Government will continue to work with our local tourism industry to create the right settings to enable sustainable growth and address challenges facing the tourism sector, such as the attraction and retention of skilled staff.”