The trade show floor at ATE
The sheer size and scope of ATE is really overwhelming, and covering the entire event in less than a solid week is pretty much impossible. But never fear; I’m making a good go of it.
One of the biggest announcements was the debut of the new Luxury Lodges of Australia, a new association of luxury experiential lodges throughout the country. Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, said that these properties are “the tip of the iceberg” for Australia’s luxury market. “It’s not just about a marble bathroom or a good restaurant,” he added. “It’s about the whole environment…Every one of these properties celebrates Australia.”
The Latest from the States and Territories
South Australia is presenting itself as a “microcosm of what people can expect Australia to be,” according to Tess Fisher of the South Australian Tourism Commission. To that end, they are changing their focus from wine to Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula, where visitors can stay in five-star hotels, go camping, swim with tuna or shuck oysters in the water. (Qantas links flights to the Eyre Peninsula have already begun.)
Kate Ryan of Tourism NT hopes that the new Virgin Blue flights will open up the Northern Territory to new visitors. The Wildman Wilderness Lodge is due to open in March of 2011, along with a new resort at the Mary River National Park.
Two of the Luxury Lodges are in New South Wales --Wolgan Valley (an Emirates property that opened in October) and the Chateau Elan (a five-month-old property in the Hunter Valley). Beyond that, Sydney’s dining scene has taken off in recent years, as has the Hunter Valley Wine Region.
Queensland is still basking in the attention the Best Job in the World campaign brought the state, and is continuing to promote its exotic attractions (like Heart Reef, which is shaped like, well, a heart, and is popular for marriage proposals). With lots of islands (many of them private) offering different options, Tourism Queensland suggests guests tell them their interests, and the company will find an island that suits them.
Western Australia takes up a full third of the entire continent, and is reinventing itself as a luxury destination. (Sara Monahan hinted that several Hollywood heavyweights have vacationed there...Of course, we'd never namedrop!) In Exmeath, visitors can swim with whale sharks, and Kalgoorlie is “like Vegas without the neon.” Monahan did acknowledge that it takes a good amount of time to get to Western Australia from the U.S., especially the East Coast. (The trek from New York to Los Angeles, LA to Sydney, Sydney to Perth can take well over 30 hours.) She recommends flying to Dubai, and from there to Perth for an easier trip.
(I’ll be meeting with Tourism Victoria and Tasmania tomorrow, and will report back on what they have to say!)