By VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith
VTIC was thrilled when we exceeded expectations by attracting 350 registrations for the Victorian Tourism Conference in Geelong on 14 and 15 July. Thanks to all delegates, who represented every region and sector of our industry, rekindled and created contacts and were inspired to improve their business.
All our speakers struck a chord. Keynote Anna Pollock from the UK challenged the audience to re-think the game of tourism, our purpose and how we motivate staff to deliver transformative experiences from host destinations that are engaged with the local community. It was an inspiring start to a conference themed ‘be a game changer’. Subsequent speakers included Jason Fox, who spoke about motivation theory, Trevor Young, who explored social media, and Michael Gudinski, who covered the pain and joy of running events. Insightful breakout sessions completed the theme.
VTIC’s Deputy Chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson delivered a rousing wrap on the state of our industry, including a reality check and a call to arms. He reminded delegates that Victorian tourism has not performed to its full capacity in the past decade and in some areas there has been a decline in competiveness. Other states envy the way Victoria collaborates through trade missions and partnerships and I echo Wayne’s sentiment that Victoria can be a major tourism success if industry harnesses its ability to advocate. Of course VTIC can help with this, but we need more troops on board.
We now have an ideal opportunity to fulfil the unrealised potential of our industry. Our first step is to speak strongly, with one voice. In the lead-up to the state election on 29 November, we must stress that tourism equals jobs so that whichever side is successful on polling day commits to greater funding support. At the conference, with the ear of Minister Asher, we were able to emphasise that government spending on tourism, at all levels, is an investment, not a subsidy.
A key element of VTIC’s Policy Agenda is a commitment to advancing all strategic projects in all corners of Victoria. One of major state significance is Point Nepean and VTIC welcomes the announcement that Point Leisure Group is the successful tenderer for this wonderful experience. With Victoria playing its role as a welcoming host destination, we must all get behind these game-changing projects. Industry is the innovator and we must support these efforts.
Wayne’s final call to arms was to urge delegates to speak with local members and councillors about their own community’s aspirations; ask what they are doing to support tourism in their areas and identify the strategic ideas which could become reality.
When we work as ‘Team Victoria’, we can achieve great things, allowing all to prosper.