Last week, our Operations Manager, Emily, joined over 2,500 delegates at the Australian Tourism Exchange 2015 in Melbourne. The event proved to be a valuable experience, providing an opportunity to network, build positive relationships, and gain insight into current trends within the tourism industry and various markets. Tourism Australia put on a great event, showcasing some of the best culinary experiences from all across Australia in light of the Restaurant Australia campaign.
It was fantastic to see that Ecotourism Australia’s (EA) members made up 20% of all the Sellers present at the event, a strong indicator of the high standard of our certified operators. We shared a booth with our partners at Conservation Volunteers, and Emily was pleased to touch base with many of our members, put faces to names, and learn more about the success of their businesses. Across a busy schedule of 70 appointments, she also met with representatives from an array of wholesalers, retailers, travel agents and state tourism organisations. By the end of the four-day event, Emily came to several key findings based on the feedback received from Buyers:
- The greatest interest in ecotourism, nature based tourism, and sustainability certification came from the European (particularly German), Canadian and the US markets.
- Representatives from various Asian countries noted that interest in ecotourism and “getting off the beaten track” was beginning to grow among younger generations and more seasoned travellers. They also predicted interest would grow further following the introduction of Australia’s multiple entry 10-year visa for Chinese citizens as a result of the Australia-China free trade agreement.
- Many Buyers showed great interest in EA’s online Green Travel Guide (GTG), the searchable database found on our website featuring all of our certified members, and indicated they would use it to search for new product. The GTG was a very valuable tool and was used during most appointments.
- A number of Buyers expressed great interest in “hands on” voluntourism experiences that allow guests the opportunity to contribute to some form of conservation effort during their visit.
- Buyers from online distribution channels and online travel agencies noted that when given a choice between a certified or non-certified experience, travellers were more inclined to choose the certified option, and that this is an increasing trend. These Buyers also noted that many certified operators listed on their sites often do not mention their certification in their listings.
Over the coming weeks, we will be following up on connections made at the event and working to further develop new and strengthen old relationships with the ultimate goal of bringing greater value to our members.
If you have any feedback or questions following our participation in the Australian Tourism Exchange, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
(Pictured: Several of our certified operators with Rod, our CEO)