Tourism in regional Victoria is in the slow-lane and Melbourne needs increased tourism capacity – these two key points were top of the agenda at VTIC’s Ideas Forum on 12 March and are messages we’ll be voicing loud and clear in the lead-up to the state election on 29 November.
Key ideas to secure the future prosperity of tourism in this state election year were raised and explored at the event, including:
- the need for a properly funded intrastate marketing campaign for Victoria
- securing small and medium-sized events for regional Victoria (such as conferences and niche events like swap meets, sporting tournaments and vintage car rallies)
- further developing the state’s tourism offering to ensure it’s ready for increased visitation from Asian markets
- the need for better transportation options in regional areas
- the importance of combating ‘ritualisation’ in the domestic holiday choices of Victorians
- developing better and more compelling packaging of regional product
- the urgent need to extend the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).
There was some very interesting discussion about how we can be more creative in the ICT space and how we can better use all of the digital platforms that are fast becoming available to operators.
There were also fascinating ideas about how industry can more effectively leverage private sector investment.
One point that I want to highlight is destination management; more specifically, who does what and how it fits together. We are, by our nature a fragmented industry; there are many operators, many regions and many products. But I believe I am reiterating the sentiments of the Ideas Forum groups when I say that industry is seeking higher levels of coordination and leadership. The need for greater co-operation was also raised; it is important that members of industry unite to compete as a combined visitor experience, as opposed to just competing with the business next door.
In coming weeks, you will receive a finalised VTIC briefing that considers the issues discussed at our Ideas Forum. We are only as strong as our members and we appreciate your help in developing our 2014 policy agenda.
One of the key challenges we face in undertaking any advocacy in an election year is that peak bodies, interest groups and political activists compete for relevance and attention in the political debate. Because of this, the strength of our profile and how we define ourselves will determine our success.
At a recent event in the Yarra Valley, I suggested to tourism colleagues that we need to examine how we talk about tourism; we need a simplified profile for our industry when speaking with government about why tourism is a wise investment. VTIC invites each of you to embrace this approach and be part of our pre-election campaign as we strive to gain some genuine political traction over the next 10 months.
One of VTIC’s previous ‘war-cries’ for industry was that ‘tourism is everybody’s business’. I reinvoke that message now because it is important to remind both sides of politics that our industry employs people in every postcode across the state.
Tourism is a significant driver of Victoria’s economic prosperity and in a challenging economic climate it can help offset the job losses being felt in our regional communities. We know too that tourism investment makes sense from a social perspective, given all the downstream and legacy benefits it provides for communities.
VTIC’s advocacy to government will be made more powerful by the number of voices we can marshal. In the coming months, we need you to lobby your local members, start local conversations, get in touch with local media and increase the volume of our collective voice.
As we head towards the state election on 29 November, we have a rare opportunity to make our case to political candidates and secure positive outcomes for our industry. These would allow us to thrive, help secure the growth of our regions, and provide valuable opportunities for the next generation.