three venues. ICC have over 400 events already booked, everything from rock concerts to international conferences, summits, sporting events, and plenty more to come. ICC Sydney also sits at the heart of the $3.4 billion revitalisation of Darling Harbour.
Australia demonstrated yet again its structural rise as the new mecca for global tourism in the latest tourist arrival data released on 14 July 2017 by the Australia Bureau of Statistics, paving a long runway of growth for Sealink Travel. There were 579,100 visitor arrivals during May, an increase of 6.8% relative to the same period of the previous year. This brings us to 8.49 million visitor arrivals for year ending May 2017, an increase of 9.2% relative to the previous year. This represents an extra 713,000 visitors on the previous year.
Australia is on the brink of its biggest tourism boom since the influx of Japanese tourists in the 1980s, as a rising Asian middle class and new aircraft technology encourages airlines to launch hundreds of new flights and re-map the traditional aviation hubs linking the country with the rest of the world. A dramatic shake-up of Qantas and Virgin Australia’s international routes, at a time when a record number of foreign airlines are opening new routes into Australia, will spur the growth and further cut airfares, which have fallen 30% over the last decade. International aviation capacity in Australia has grown 30% over the last five years.
Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti, on board his airline’s first Melbourne to Hong Kong flight, commented, “I used to say Australia was geographically challenged, now I think it is geographically privileged because it is only one sector away from the biggest population in the world which is transforming so much.” The Australian government is in talks with a host of countries to secure more liberalised air services agreements. Australia could also become an important hub for Latin America into Asia.
The industry is particularly excited about the possibility of direct routes to Europe and North America for the first time in Australia’s
history. This should open up markets such as the United States east coast where travellers have traditionally been put off by the prospect of taking two long flights. “I remember growing up and having to fly via Singapore- Bahrain and into London. We are becoming more and more part of the international community and it is a very exciting time. The tourism industry now is becoming more about technology. It has been one of the most disrupted industries since the advent of the low-cost carrier. Every time it is disrupted, it throws something out that makes it easier for the consumer”, Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, an Australian Museum of Underwater Art off Townsville could boost the region’s tourism visitation by hundreds of thousands of people a year. Acclaimed British international sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor visited Townsville in July to assess the feasibility of establishing underwater sculpture at four sites. Taylor’s underwater museum off Cancun, Mexico, listed among the Top 25 Wonders of the World – which would be of a similar scale to the Townsville proposal – attracted an additional 400,000 tourists every year. SeaLink Queensland general manager Paul Victory said a budget of about $2 million was being considered for the underwater museum. The Morris Group, which owns The Ville Resort-Casino and the Orpheus Island Resort, has pledged $200,000. This project is hailed a possible “game-changer” for the region’s marine tourism industry, a win-win for Sealink Queensland which runs the Magnetic and Palm Island ferry services and a boost to the local economy.
Walkways and associated infrastructure similar to that on Kangaroo Island, Tasmania and in New Zealand are expected to open up previously inaccessible parts of Magnetic Island, according to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service who have identified tracks and lookouts to help attract visitors from the adventure tourism market as key recreational opportunities for the island. Walks that include stunning scenery and high-quality infrastructure have been hugely successful in attracting tourists in Australia and overseas.