Our Great Barrier Reef is still very much on the world’s bucket list – and rightly so as my own recent experiences with some of our operators confirm. A cooler and wetter summer has marked a good period of recovery for much of the northern reef and remarkable reef experiences remain as a key drawcard to Tropical North Queensland for international visitors.
The recent announcement of $500 million to be spent on the Great Barrier Reef is great news for the tourism industry as it underscores the point that the Great Barrier Reef is the best managed reef in the world, accessed by world-class tourism operators. This is a story we can shout across the world. The initiatives undertaken on many of our reef fleet vessels on a daily basis such as reef monitoring programs, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish control and helping guests understand more about the reef are world leading. In the face of global climate change, these local actions give the reef the very best opportunity to recover where there has been damage, and in the longer term to thrive, albeit under changing global conditions.
With the Australian Tourism Exchange ticked off for another year, it’s great to see the powerful presence of our TNQ industry further cementing long-standing ties with international trade partners. While acknowledging the exponential growth of digital networks, and the need for TNQ to be a leader in this space, the importance of building face-to-face relationships remains in some ways even more important. This region’s success has largely been built over the years by groups of operators knocking on doors in Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong and Munich. Sales trips by operators built around commercial transactions pre-arrival remains a cornerstone that ensures the pie grows, rather than relying on dividing it up post arrival. TTNQ can support operators through our public relations and other in-market activities, but the driving force must be our industry.
While some may be disappointed that the board has decided to close the Visitor Information Centre, the VIC’s future has been considered for nearly two years. With limited resources, TTNQ needs to look to prioritising its actions and with post arrival visitors increasingly choosing a digital booking option, and local tour desks providing a service in this space, the decision was made to close from June. The board is extremely grateful for the work and effort that has been put in by manager Wayne Joughin and his team over the years, as well as the volunteers who have contributed so much to the region.
May is traditionally a softer month in the region, but we’re looking towards a busy mid-year period while acknowledging that the domestic market is challenged by the constraints of tight air capacity from our key markets of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Having said that, our Sydney-based PR agency, Klick Communications, is actively working to raise the region’s profile for refugees from the southern winter to ensure our region’s inspiring local stories are widely shared.
With Conversations with TEQ and Tourism Australia’s CEO John Sullivan and Chair Bob East visiting this week, it was great to see our local industry engaging with the broader state and national tourism agendas.