It’s been a full day of walking around the trade show floor at the Australia Tourism Exchange (ATE), and there is plenty of news from Australia’s states and territories.
Queensland, obviously, has had a rough time in recent months between floods and cyclones, but the state is now focusing on recovery and reminding the world that they are open for business. “The hotels are fine, the reef is spectacular, and the rainforest is lush and green,” said Linda Zaklikowski of the state’s tourism board. “We want to make sure that people don’t generalize. We’re putting things in perspective.”
From anecdotal evidence, Zaklikowski says that many bookings for visits to Queensland were not canceled, but redirected. In fact, she noted, the global financial crisis had more of an impact on the state’s numbers than the recent natural disasters did.
The tagline for the state is "Where Australia Shines," and that’s what the tourism board is hoping to promote. “It doesn’t mean sunshine. It means moments. It could be meeting a local and chatting, or seeing a turtle, or fish in the reef. It’s memories.”
A major new resort, Wildman Wilderness Lodge, is set to open this month in the Northern Territory. In Darwin, Sky City is expanding, and renovations should be complete later this year.
Several safari companies are offering unique tours of the outback and other natural attractions in the territory. Davidson’s Safaris, for example, goes into lands owned by indigenous peoples that are normally closed off to outsiders. Lord Safaris offers nature tours of Kakadu Natural Park, and Venture North offers exclusive tours of the Cobourg Peninsula. Alice Springs Holidays offers multi-day trips through Uluru (formerly known as Ayres Rock) through to King’s Canyon that run three or four days.
Adelaide and its suburbs have several new establishments that have started some buzz. The Stirling Hotel, renovated from a former pub, opened recently, as did The Manna of Hahndorf. Foodies will want to check out the White House, a new restaurant in Hahndorf from the owners of the popular Chocolate 5, and Grace, The Establishment, which opened in Adelaide.
Kangaroo Island is one of South Australia’s most popular vacation destinations, and development on the island has picked up steam recently. Kangaroo Beach Lodges are new luxury accommodations, and new helicopter flights are being offered to and around the island.
The third Art Hotel (the Blackman) has opened in Melbourne, as has the Crown Metropol, a new luxury property with a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Several properties (the Langham, the Windsor and the Marriott) are undergoing major renovations.
Several new tours have also debuted in the state, catering to very distinct markets. Notable on the list is the Hidden Secrets tours , which takes clients to the city’s best (and, frequently, off-the-beaten-track) cafes and restaurants. Other tours geared for shoppers focus on the brand outlets in and around the city.
Arts and culture are the buzzwords for development in Tasmania, with the January opening of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart, which saw more than 100,000 visitors in its first 60 days.
“Everything an art gallery is, this place isn’t,” said Nadine Ghanem of the state’s tourism board. Rooms have been specifically created to fit certain exhibits or pieces, guaranteeing that each installation will be seen in the best possible light.
The city has also launched ArtBikes, free bikes that can be picked up and dropped off at outdoor art installations, and smArt maps for finding the best museums and galleries.
A new public golf course, Lost Farm, has opened to complement the popular Barnbougle Dunes, and a new hotel (Lost Farm Lodge) is opening with it. And by next year, a new package will highlight Australia’s convict heritage, with tours of notable prisons in Sydney and Tasmania.
New South Wales
Several new tours are in the works for New South Wales, including snorkel safaris, a Grand Pacific Drive using Ferraris (great for the luxury market), Royal Coast walks (great for the adventure market), and tours of the Blue Mountains.
As announced yesterday, the Sydney’s opera scene is expanding beyond the stage of the Opera House, but we’re intrigued by the recent announcement that visitors can book private opera recitals with some of the city’s best singers. It could be a great option for honeymooners or those seeking romance travel.