By Dianne Smith, Chief Executive
During September, I’ve heard some of our best tourism and events advocates speak passionately and clearly about the benefits of governments continuing to invest in our industry.
One pivotal organisation, Melbourne Airport, reported on the past year at their annual stakeholder briefing. CEO Chris Woodruff, in his witty and engaging manner, spoke about increased visitor numbers and the range of business (including freight) undertaken by the Airport. Most impressively, he spoke about the $1 billion of capital works underway and ahead.
The Melbourne Airport team deserves a round of applause purely on the basis of having hosted 7.75 million international arrivals this past year – great results!
I also sat next to John Harnden, Chief Executive of the ICC Cricket World Cup, at our quarterly events network (VEIC) get-together this month. Refreshingly, he reminded us that the biggest events are not necessarily the best, and that those events with strong local support will clearly go well.
John reflected on what makes a major event great. In his words, it must be rare, elite and desirable. He also reinforced the important role that sporting events in particular play in building ‘people to people’ relationships. No doubt this will be the case when the ICC Cricket World Cup comes to Melbourne in 2015.
Certainly Victoria has enjoyed a great advantage in events, being the ‘first mover’ and having wonderful stadia, however we must not rest on our laurels. We must be planning for what Victoria should aim to attract in future.
If you weren’t aware of Federal Minister Andrew Robb’s tourism advocacy, we heard it first-hand last week, when VTIC had the opportunity to host a special roundtable with the Minister. As a senior cabinet minister with the Trade and Investment portfolio (which includes responsibility for tourism), Minister Robb is in a unique position to support and profile our industry. He shared his insights about the industry’s potential, its achievements so far and his future focus areas. He spoke generously and engaged with attendees, responding to several questions.
Minister Robb conveyed a keen understanding of key business issues and was genuinely interested to hear from industry about the barriers being encountered. It also struck me how ‘human’ he is; it sounds funny, but I’ve never heard a federal minister remind his audience to look after themselves as much as they look after their net returns. He meant this in relation to good health as we embark on our daily lives – it was a most refreshing and well-received message!
Having had the pleasure of listening to the three tourism advocates mentioned above in recent weeks, I leave you with a reminder to follow suit and continue to speak up for our industry. It is timely to do so, as we head towards the Victorian state election on 29 November. By confidently and clearly articulating our priorities, the case for tourism is that much more compelling.
In the lead-up to polling day, please listen out for tourism announcements and visit www.vtic.com.au to read or download VTIC’s pre-election Policy Agenda.