Aus­tralia’s ma­jor cities are ramp­ing up their busi­ness and leisure of­fer­ings in tan­dem with a boom in tourism and air con­nec­tions

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - WORDS VA­LE­RIAN HO

Aus­tralia’s ma­jor cities are ramp­ing up their busi­ness and leisure of­fer­ings

Aus­tralia is no stranger to tourism. Her iconic wildlife and cul­ture, en­vi­able weather and out­doorsy pur­suits pro­vide a con­stant lure to global trav­el­ers. But ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Trade and In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion, the tourism in­dus­try is set for “su­per­charged growth” in the next few years, with Asia – and China in par­tic­u­lar – set to dom­i­nate the in­bound mar­ket. As the of­fi­cial Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia fore­cast shows, Asia-Pa­cific al­ready ac­counts for 64 per­cent of all vis­i­tor growth, with China alone mak­ing a 29 per­cent con­tri­bu­tion. Sta­tis­tics also re­veal an up­turn of for­eign busi­ness in­vest­ments by ma­jor ad­vanced economies, in­clud­ing the US, Ja­pan, UK and Canada, with an ex­pec­ta­tion that this will greatly in­crease the num­bers of cor­po­rate trav­el­ers and MICE ac­tiv­i­ties over the next few years. Stim­u­lat­ing this growth is a mas­sive in­crease in air traf­fic, driven in part by the rise of low-cost car­ri­ers, but also by in­creased ser­vices and fre­quen­cies from ma­jor air­lines tar­get­ing the rapid devel­op­ment in Aus­tralia’s var­i­ous cities. New run­ways and ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties are be­ing built across the coun­try to ac­com­mo­date the bur­geon­ing air­line and cus­tomer needs.

Huge de­vel­op­ments in Aus­tralia’s ma­jor cities are also un­der­way to in­crease ho­tel open­ings and up­date fa­cil­i­ties such as con­ven­tion cen­ters and en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts to sat­isfy the de­mand from ris­ing trav­eler num­bers.

Here’s a run­down of the key de­vel­op­ments in five of Aus­tralia’s main ur­ban cen­ters.


In 2015, the South Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment reached out to in­ter­na­tional air­lines amid con­cerns Ade­laide Air­port was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a slump in

Aus­tralia’s tourism in­dus­try is set for “su­per­charged growth” in the next few years

pas­sen­ger traf­fic. In re­sponse, in De­cem­ber 2016 China South­ern Air­lines launched a three-times weekly di­rect ser­vice from Guangzhou – the city’s first reg­u­lar air link to main­land China.

Cathay Pa­cific also in­creased its five-times-weekly ser­vice to six times a week be­gin­ning this month. Malaysia Air­lines will also in­crease fre­quency to five flights per week in July, while Emi­rates is look­ing to de­ploy its su­per­jumbo A380 on the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar route in the near fu­ture.

Ar­guably, Ade­laide is most fa­mous for its beau­ti­ful vine­yards. South Aus­tralia pro­duces 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s pre­mium wines from its 18 iconic wine grow­ing re­gions such as the Ade­laide Hills, the Barossa Val­ley and McLaren Vale. “We have 200 cel­lars within an hour from the city,” says Nic Mercer, di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing at the Ade­laide Con­ven­tion Bureau. “We are the na­tional wine cen­ter.”

How­ever, Mercer is con­fi­dent that ma­jor in­vest­ments in the city’s com­mer­cial of­fer­ing will give the city new ap­peal. “There’s been A$5.6 bil­lion ($4 bil­lion) worth of in­vest­ment into the River­bank precinct, a huge com­mer­cial project in the mid­dle of the city. Once peo­ple see this, they’re go­ing to be sur­prised.”

Part of this in­vest­ment in­cluded A$397 mil­lion ($305 mil­lion) rede­vel­op­ment of the city’s con­ven­tion cen­ter, in­clud­ing a new mul­ti­pur­pose fa­cil­ity of up to 3,500 seats. A num­ber of en­ter­tain­ment and cul­tural projects are also in the works, in­clud­ing a A$610 mil­lion ($469 mil­lion) rede­vel­op­ment of Fes­ti­val Plaza, and re­vi­tal­ized arts, cul­ture and leisure spa­ces, sched­uled for com­ple­tion in 2020.

In the ho­tel sec­tor, fol­low­ing the launch of a new Pull­man, Ade­laide now boasts more than 6,000 rooms in the cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict. Skyc­ity Casino has re­ceived the green light for a A$330 mil­lion ($254 mil­lion) ex­pan­sion, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of the city’s first six-star ho­tel in 2020. A 250-room Sof­i­tel will also be open­ing next year.


Queens­land’s ma­jor city is also look­ing for­ward to plenty of new de­vel­op­ments. A new world-class in­te­grated re­sort is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion that is be­ing likened to Ma­rina Bay Sands in Sin­ga­pore – with a Brizzy twist. Ex­pected to open in 2022, Queen’s Wharf Bris­bane will in­clude a huge pub­lic space with green park­land, an out­door cin­ema, a Sky Deck for sun­set cock­tails, with bars and din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in her­itage build­ings.

“The next five years is go­ing to be very ex­cit­ing for Bris­bane,” says Brett Fraser, CEO of Bris­bane Mar­ket­ing. “We’re ex­pect­ing this project to gen­er­ate some A$1.5 bil­lion per year once its com­pleted and we’re also ex­pect­ing it to lead to an in­crease of 1.3 mil­lion tourists an­nu­ally.”

Ar­guably, Ade­laide is most fa­mous for its beau­ti­ful vine­yards

In an­tic­i­pa­tion, the devel­op­ment will in­clude five new in­ter­na­tional ho­tel brands of­fer­ing more than 1,000 pre­mium ho­tel rooms, in­clud­ing Ritz-Carl­ton, Rose­wood, Dorsett and two ho­tels from The Star En­ter­tain­ment Group. Aus­tralia’s first W ho­tel opened in June on the banks of the Bris­bane River of­fer­ing 312 gue­strooms. A 286-room Westin will fol­low in Novem­ber, a few steps from the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion & Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre and Queen Street Mall.

An­other ma­jor project set to draw up to 766,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally is the new A$100 mil­lion ($77 mil­lion) cruise ter­mi­nal. It will of­fer the only fa­cil­ity in Bris­bane ca­pable of host­ing “mega ships” of over 800 feet in length.

In­creas­ing air links from Asia also bode well for the city. Air China started a four-times-weekly route from Bei­jing last De­cem­ber, while China Eastern bumped their ser­vices to a daily in Novem­ber. Malaysia Air­lines has also re­sumed a non-stop ser­vice four times a week.

In fact, Bris­bane Air­port pre­dicts that by 2035, 50 mil­lion vis­i­tors will ar­rive by air – more than dou­ble the cur­rent fig­ure of 22.7 mil­lion last year.

To ac­com­mo­date this in­creas­ing traf­fic, a new 10,800-foot-long run­way is un­der con­struc­tion. The project – ex­pected to be com­plete by 2020 – will in­clude more than 7 miles of taxi­ways, nav­i­ga­tional aids, air­field in­fra­struc­ture and hun­dreds of acres of air­field land­scape, at a to­tal cost of A$1.3 bil­lion ($999 mil­lion).

Ac­cord­ing to Rob Nel­son, COO of the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion Bureau: “Queens­land has a lot to of­fer from the Great Bar­rier Reef to the beau­ti­ful weather. Bris­bane is a nat­u­ral gate­way to Aus­tralia, and is a grow­ing tourism and busi­ness des­ti­na­tion.”


Aus­tralia’s west-coast city made head­lines re­cently with the launch of Qan­tas’s non-stop Perth-Lon­don ser­vice in March. At 9009 miles, this is the world’s sec­ond long­est flight, con­nect­ing Europe with Aus­tralia in 17 hours, 20 min­utes.

Many other air­lines are also up­grad­ing their ser­vices ac­cord­ingly. Sin­ga­pore Air­lines chose Perth as one of the first des­ti­na­tions to de­ploy its brand-new 78710, and Qatar Air­ways also up­graded its Doha-Perth route in May, re­plac­ing its 777-300ER with an Air­bus su­per­jumbo.

Mean­while, Cathay Pa­cific has en­hanced its daily Perth-Hong Kong ser­vice with an A350. And at the end of 2017, China South­ern Air­lines also added an ex­tra daily ser­vice on a brand-new A330.

A new run­way and ma­jor ex­pan­sion to the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal of Perth Air­port are ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2020.

With the rise in vis­i­tors to the city, de­mand for ac­com­mo­da­tion is strong. There are cur­rently 2,500 rooms be­ing built, in­clud­ing a 350-room Westin, three Dou­ble­trees by Hil­ton of­fer­ing a to­tal of 596 rooms, and a Ritz-Carl­ton hous­ing 204 rooms open­ing in Eliz­a­beth Quay. This city re­newal project was com­pleted in 2016, and has added five F&B out­lets, an is­land play­ground, a BHP Bil­li­ton Wa­ter Park, in­stal­la­tions of pub­lic art and in­ter­pre­tive her­itage pieces.


While Dar­ling Har­bour is re­de­vel­op­ing, fin­ished projects in­clude the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Syd­ney – Aus­tralia’s largest en­ter­tain­ment, events and con­fer­ence fa­cil­ity, which opened early last year.

Af­ter a pe­riod of stag­na­tion, Syd­ney’s ho­tel devel­op­ment has also ramped up. The new Sof­i­tel Syd­ney Dar­ling Har­bour ho­tel opened at the end of 2017, with 600 rooms and di­rect ac­cess to ICC Syd­ney. Mean­while, the old Four Points by Sher­a­ton has been re­branded as

the Hy­att Re­gency Syd­ney at Dar­ling Har­bour, of­fer­ing a whop­ping 900 rooms.

Look­ing to the fu­ture – 2020 to be ex­act – “The Rib­bon” is a 25-story mul­ti­pur­pose devel­op­ment that will boast new ho­tel rooms and ser­viced apart­ments, an IMAX The­atre plus re­tail and en­ter­tain­ment spa­ces.

An­other iconic spot, Syd­ney Fish Mar­ket, will be re­lo­cated to a new Dan­ish-de­signed build­ing next to its cur­rent spot. The A$250 mil­lion-plus ($192 mil­lion) rede­vel­op­ment – due to start later this year – will in­clude the restora­tion of pub­lic ac­cess from Went­worth Park through to the wa­ter­front, and the ad­di­tion of world­class food and din­ing out­lets.

Syd­ney is a fa­vorite des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese vis­i­tors, and main­land air­lines are launch­ing more and more flights to the New South Wales me­trop­o­lis. China Eastern launched a Wuhan ser­vice in Fe­bru­ary last year, fol­lowed by Cap­i­tal Air­lines’ Qing­dao route in Oc­to­ber and Tian­jin Air­lines’ Zhengzhou ser­vice this Jan­uary. Vir­gin Aus­tralia has also be­gun a di­rect Hong Kong ser­vice, while China Air­lines has in­creased its Taipei ser­vices to 11 per week fly­ing new A350 air­craft.


Mel­bourne Air­port has seen its in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger num­bers grow by 46 per­cent over the past six years, and is ex­pected to wel­come more than 60 mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally by 2033.

This has been driven by a raft of new flights op­er­ated by main­land car­ri­ers. China South­ern has launched three­times-weekly ser­vices to Mel­bourne from Shen­zhen, while Tian­jin Air­lines op­er­ates three flights per week from Chongqing and Xi­a­men Air­lines of­fers twice­weekly flights from Hangzhou served by its 787-8 Dream­liner. Aus­tralia’s Jet­star has also added air links to the main­land.

New ser­vices from other Asian car­ri­ers in­cludes Ja­pan Air­lines’ non-stop Dream­liner ser­vice from Tokyo, Sri Lankan Air­lines flights to Colombo and three-times weekly ser­vice to Manila on Cebu Pa­cific.

To ac­com­mo­date the se­ri­ous up­lift in pas­sen­ger traf­fic, Mel­bourne Air­port has been ex­pand­ing. In De­cem­ber it un­veiled re­fur­bished re­tail and din­ing out­lets at Ter­mi­nal 2, in­clud­ing brands from Tif­fany & Co to Tumi.

In ad­di­tion to up­grad­ing the air­port, the city is ex­pand­ing the Mel­bourne Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre (MCEC) and broader South Wharf precinct. The project will add nearly 215,000 square feet of mul­ti­pur­pose event space, in­clud­ing new ex­hi­bi­tion halls, and ad­di­tional meet­ing and ban­quet rooms, con­nected to the ex­ist­ing MCEC build­ings. It is ex­pected to gen­er­ate a A$167 mil­lion ($128 mil­lion) boost to the econ­omy an­nu­ally. The A$300 mil­lion ($230 mil­lion) ex­pan­sion project in­cludes a new 347-room Novo­tel ho­tel (open­ing soon) con­nect­ing di­rectly to the MCEC.

“The gov­ern­ment has in­vested a lot in the busi­ness in­dus­try, which is great,” says Ja­son Balkin, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of busi­ness devel­op­ment and bids at the Mel­bourne Con­ven­tion Bureau. “We are very ex­cited about the con­ven­tion cen­ter ex­pan­sion. It will be the big­gest ex­hi­bi­tion and con­ven­tion cen­ter in the south hemi­sphere.”

CLOCK­WISE FROM OP­PO­SITE PAGE TOP: Ade­laide’s river­bank; Bris­bane Air­port; and ren­der­ings of soon-to-open W Bris­bane

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre; Qan­tas air­craft de­tail­ing in Perth; the Mel­bourne Star Ob­ser­va­tion Wheel; and a bath­room view in Sof­i­tel Syd­ney Dar­ling Har­bour

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