Tourism boss tips huge global boom

The Courier-Mail - - BUSINESS - AN­THONY MARX

GOLD Coast busi­ness­man Bob East be­lieves Aus­tralia will be the best po­si­tioned na­tion in the world to take ad­van­tage of an ex­pected boom in global travel be­tween now and 2030.

“We will knock it out of the ball­park. We will kill it,’’ the new chair­man of Tourism Aus­tralia told a busi­ness lunch in Brisbane last week.

About 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple around the world travel each year, with that num­ber set to swell by an ad­di­tional 2.5 bil­lion by 2030, Mr East said.

A huge per­cent­age of that surge will come from China’s grow­ing mid­dle class, where just 6 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion has a pass­port today.

Mr East, who is also man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Mantra Group, said Aus­tralia needed to sell it­self as a safe, clean and green des­ti­na­tion which could of­fer au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ences and car­ing service.

In a bid to drive this mes­sage home, he hopes to un­veil a new promotional cam­paign in about six months to al­low Aus­tralia to cap­i­talise on a “mas­sive op­por­tu­nity’’.

Mr East was picked to head Tourism Aus­tralia ear­lier this month af­ter spend­ing two years at the helm of Tourism and Events Queens­land.

His ten­ure will co­in­cide with next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games, which Mantra hopes will put a rocket up its earn­ings in such well-known brands as Pep­pers, Mantra and BreakFree.

The com­pany, one of the na­tion’s big­gest ac­com­mo­da­tion providers, ex­pects the Com­mon­wealth Games will bol­ster its for­tunes on the Gold Coast, where it has about 5000 rooms.

De­spite last year’s Dream­world tragedy, which has put a damp­ener on tourism on the Gold Coast, Mantra gen­er­ated a 23 per cent lift in net profit last year to $45.6 mil­lion.

The group’s star per­former was the re­sort di­vi­sion, where rev­enue shot up nearly 30 per cent.

This in­cluded a solid re­sult from Mantra’s re­cently ac­quired 1176-room Ala Moana Ho­tel in Hawaii, one of six prop­er­ties bought last year.

By con­trast, the com­pany’s Aus­tralian cap­i­tal CBD ho­tels had a patchy run.

Brisbane, Perth and Dar­win mar­kets suf­fered losses, which were bal­anced out by stronger growth in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Can­berra and Ho­bart.

In the year ahead, Mantra will fo­cus on in­te­grat­ing 18 con­tracted prop­er­ties in its ac­qui­si­tions pipe­line.

Among these is the Art Se­ries Ho­tel Group, which is ex­pected to set­tle in late 2017.

The $52.5 mil­lion deal an­nounced last month will add more than 1000 suites and apart­ments to Mantra’s group, bol­ster­ing its pres­ence in the lux­ury mar­ket.

Pic­ture: Glenn Hampson

HIGH HOPES: Mantra CEO Bob East is bet­ting on a tourism boom in Aus­tralia.

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