Vacations &Travel has the last word with John O'Sullivan from Tourism Australia.
Joining Tourism Australia in 2014, John O’Sullivan is the current Managing Director in charge of the nation’s global tourism marketing agency and responsible for driving Tourism Australia’s strategies to help grow the tourism sector to more than $115 billion by the end of the decade as part of the Tourism 2020 strategy. John has more than 20 years’ experience in sports marketing, event management and media across Australia, Asia and the UK. australia.com
Q: When did you start out in the tourism industry?
My first job in tourism was whilst I was studying at uni. It was at the Mayfair Crest Hotel in Brisbane, under the legendary Doug Ryan, where I worked as a porter and as a functions’ waiter.
Q: What is it you love about your job and working in the travel and tourism industry?
There is a lot to love about our industry, but I just love the people. In marketing Australia to the world as a destination for leisure and business events we have an incredible product to offer, with a combination of stunning natural environment alongside vibrant young cities with an exceptional culinary offering and incredible people – it really makes you appreciate that there truly is nothing like Australia.
Q: What are you most excited about with Tourism Australia in 2019 and beyond?
I am excited about the prospects of our industry in the broader Australian economy. Australian tourism has grown from strength to strength in recent years to the point where we are now welcoming 9.1 million international visitors annually, spending $42.5 billion.
I am excited about the future and the very real possibility that our visitor economy will surpass 10 million visitors annually in the coming years. Importantly, this growth has sparked new products and experiences around the country for visitors to enjoy.
Q: Which international markets are you seeing the most growth from in terms of inbound tourism?
China continues to be the main contributor to international visitor growth and spend, with 1.4 million visitors annually in the past year (up
7.5 per cent) and contributing a record $11.27 billion in spend. Alongside China, India is another market that has been growing strongly, with Indian visitor numbers increasing 19 per cent in the past year to 345,000. Then we have long standing markets like the US and UK that continue to deliver, with 783k and 744k visitors annually and spending $3.67 billion and
$3.49 billion respectively.
Q: Which tourism categories are experiencing strong growth within Australia?
Our research shows that for international visitors our world-class natural beauty, culinary experiences, along with our friendly, welcoming people are key tourism drivers for Australia. In particular, we are seeing a growing trend towards gourmet tourism as international visitors increasingly realise the depth and quality of our culinary offering.
Travellers are actively seeking out gourmet festivals or bespoke experiences, such as tailoring your own gin, to get a taste of our uniquely Australian produce and culture. When you pair this with our magnificent landscapes and the expanding offering of Australia’s own unique barefoot luxury and tourism experiences around our Indigenous culture, there are plenty of attractions on offer to international visitors.
Q: In terms of regional tourism in Australia, what are the likely hot spots for travel in 2019?
Locations such as Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth are becoming increasingly popular, given their pristine waters and abundance of sea life. The untouched landscapes of the Kimberley region filled with dramatic gorges and incredible waterfalls is another growing hot spot for visitors.
We are also seeing growing visitation to regions such as the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia as well as the regions in Tasmania, combining outstanding nature and food and wine. Then there is the spiritual heart of Australia, Uluru, which has seen even greater popularity with the Field of Light exhibition.
Well-loved hot spots such as
Byron Bay, the Great Ocean Road and Queensland’s coastal holiday enclaves and the Reef will also continue to be popular with travellers.
Q: Growing up in Queensland, what are your best memories of time spent in the Sunshine State?
Summer family holidays at either the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast. My most distinct memory is our afternoon family walks along the beach at low tide. Endless afternoons…just perfect!
Q: Now residing in Sydney, what do you like to do in your leisure time and where do you like to go?
What’s leisure time?... As I am on a plane mostly I like hanging out in Sydney. Learning to surf at Bondi Beach with Let’s Go Surfing has been fun and I just joined Monash Golf Club – not that I play.
Q: When travelling, what items do you never leave home without?
My Bose noise-cancelling headphones – an absolute must. Almost as important as my passport! •