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Virgin scores as Tourism Oz makes high-value air moves

October 14, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59In the latest phase of its multi-million-dollar drive to cement new deals with airlines following its rift with Qantas, Tourism Australia has appointed Virgin Australia platinum sponsor of one of its major annual events – Dreamtime 2013.

In Tourism Australia’s own words: “The sponsorship is the latest example of the growing partnership between Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia.” Dreamtime is Tourism Australia’s signature activity for the growing business events market.

The new appointment brings Virgin Australia very close to the Australian Government’s prime tourism marketing body. It fits perfectly with Virgin’s strategy of courting the business market. Qantas ended its marketing partnership with Tourism Australia after a well-publicised rift last year between Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon. It concerned Dixon’s support for a group of investors who opposed the direction in which Joyce planned to take the airline.

Tourism Australia is a major spender on airlines. It will spend AUD 100 million with more than 20 airline partners over the next three years, managing director Andrew McEvoy confirmed, as it continues to significantly leverage its international marketing effort with key carriers serving Australia.

Over the past 12 months, Tourism Australia has reached agreement with no fewer than seven airline partners: Air China (AUD 6 million over three years), Air New Zealand (AUD 6 million over three years), Etihad Airways (AUD 6 million over three  years), Virgin Australia (doubling existing AUD 6 million to AUD 12 million over three years), China Eastern (AUD 8.6 million), Emirates Airline (AUD 14.3 million for three years), China Southern in August (AUD million).

As platinum sponsor for Dreamtime 2013, Virgin Australia will provide international flights for buyers from Australia’s key international markets as well as all domestic travel for attendees.

Dreamtime 2013 will see approximately 100 international decision-making business events buyers and media converge on Melbourne from 9 to 13 December.

The business program and networking events hosted by the Melbourne Convention Bureau will be followed by three days of educational visits to various locations around Australia (Adelaide, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney and Uluru).

McEvoys says airline partners are vitally important in promoting Australia as a destination internationally.

“Ninety-nine per cent of visitors to Australia arrive by air and so Tourism Australia works closely with airlines both overseas and domestically to fill the seats that are currently available through powerful marketing and distribution,” he said yesterday.

“Dreamtime is our opportunity to showcase Australia as a business events destination to international buyers, and so it is fitting that we have Virgin Australia on board as a platinum event sponsor to help us demonstrate all that Australia has to offer.”

Chief commercial officer of Virgin Australia, Judith Crompton, said, “We are proud to be the platinum airline sponsor of Dreamtime 2013. This national tourism event will showcase some of the best our country has to offer. Thanks to our alliance partnerships with some of the world’s leading airlines, we are able to facilitate a seamless travel experience to Australia from over 400 international destinations.

“This new sponsorship builds on the strong partnership between Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia and we look forward to continuing to work together to promote Australia to the world.”

Meanwhile, McEvoy committed to spend AUD 100 million with more than 20 airline partners over the next three years. He made his comments at this year’s World Routes Marketing Awards in Las Vegas, where Australia’s national tourism organisation was voted overall winner, also taking out top honours in the ‘best destination marketing’ category.

Tourism Australia was recognised as the best in the world for its extensive marketing communications activities and joint campaigns with airlines, state tourism and Australian airport partners.

McEvoy said the award rewarded the ‘Team Australia’ approach to aviation development, focused around longer term strategic agreements (MOUs), co-operative marketing partnerships and working with airlines, airports and STOs to support for new airline routes.

“Working collaboratively with our airline partners has been critical to the success we’ve enjoyed in recent years in telling Australia’s tourism story to the world. This award is testament to the fact we have an approach which adds value and is working – with three consecutive years of inbound growth in numbers, nights and spending for Australia,” he said.

International air capacity to Australia increased 4.8% in 2012, to reach a record 29 million visitor movements.

“Tourism Australia now enjoys cooperative marketing relationships with most of the largest international carriers serving Australia from its key tourism markets,” McEvoy said.

Markets covered by these agreements align strongly with Tourism Australia’s balanced portfolio approach, seen as critical to achieving the industry’s Tourism 2020 strategic goal of increasing annual overnight visitor expenditure to up to AUD 140 billion by the end of the decade.

Written by Peter Needham

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