TORONTO — All the work Tourism Australia has done to keep Down Under top-of-mind with Canadians means travellers in this market are now a “primed audience” for Australia travel promotions and trip ideas, says Chris Allison, Acting General Manager North America, Tourism Australia.
And there’s more good news. The high affinity Canadian travellers have always had for Australia is still there, even after Australia’s two-year long pandemic closure.
“Canadian intent to visit Australia is back at pre-pandemic levels,” said Allison. “We’re very excited about welcoming Canadians back.”
Heading up yesterday’s Toronto stop for the ‘Australia on Tour: North America’ sales mission, Allison was joined by Air Canada’s Managing Director, Sales Planning and Effectiveness, Tim Liu, plus Steve Paganelli with TripAdvisor, and Matthew Cameron Smith, CEO of Australia’s Voyages Indigenous Tourism, for a panel discussion on all things Australia, from Canadian travel trends to lift to new hotels.
THREE YEARS OF CHALLENGING TIMES
Australia had only just recovered from the devastating 2019 – 2020 bushfire season when the pandemic hit.
Now, after almost three years of extreme challenges for companies reliant on inbound tourism, there’s a newfound resilience in Australia’s tourism sector. “You just had to get it done,” said Cameron Smith, reflecting on the back-to-back crises.
Like so many destinations, Australia focused on promoting travel to its own residents during the pandemic. And just like in Canada, with so much land to explore and new places to discover, the strategy worked as well as it could.
But as Cameron Smith says, “we can survive on domestic tourism but we can’t recover until international tourism flows.”
Australia reopened with much fanfare and celebration on Feb. 21, 2022. Fully vaccinated international travellers can enter the country quarantine-free.
Cameron Smith says visitors may find that the quality of their Australia vacation, already high to begin with, is even better post-pandemic: “It made us a better industry.”
RESTORED LIFT WITH AIR CANADA
Air Canada’s Liu offered the latest updates on Air Canada’s flights to Australia.
“Demand has been very strong” since Australia’s Feb. 21, 2022 reopening, he said.
Air Canada will have 10 flights per week between Sydney and Vancouver this summer, plus four weekly flights at the height of the season to Brisbane. Air Canada works closely with Virgin Australia for connecting flights, Liu added.
He also said Air Canada is working on restoring its service to Melbourne.
MORE THAN 1,200 NEW HOTEL ROOMS
Tourism Australia’s Allison notes that Canada has always been a strong market for Australia.
Now, safety and security are understandably top priorities for Canadian travellers, and that works well for Australia. “I think Canadian people appreciate how Australia has managed the pandemic, because it’s similar to how Canada has managed the pandemic,” he said.
Asked about what’s new in the country, Allison says that tourism operators made good use of the pandemic downtime. “Despite being in survival mode, it’s been an innovative time,” he said.
More than 1,200 new hotel rooms have opened in Australia over the past two years. New hotel developments include new projects from W and Ritz-Carlton.