THE wonders of Australia's natural environment continue to be the nation's biggest attraction for international tourists, but we need to pick up our game in promoting our top notch food and wine, a major research paper revealed on Thursday.
Conducted for Tourism Australia, the huge research project looked at changing consumer behaviours and visitor intentions across 11 countries in Asia, Europe and in the United States.
Releasing the findings at the Tourism Australia annual conference, managing director Andrew McEvoy said the findings updated and improved the industry's understanding of consumers the major tourism export markets.
Among the chief findings were that Australia's biggest strength remained its "world class nature"; with the big driver of international visitors were the country's beaches, wildlife experiences and aquatic life.
While Australians often believe the country's quality food and wine was among the world's best, that perception was not held by many who had not yet come to our shores.
However, the research also indicated that once an international tourist had visited Australia, they were more likely to regard our food and wine as top-notch.
Mr McEvoy said by better understanding consumers in the big target markets, industry and Tourism Australia could better work towards the ambitious Tourism 2020 goal of upping the tourism spend to $140billion every year.
"We already know Australia has a rich array of unique and distinctive attractions and experiences to offer our visitors, but we need to keep our finger on the pulse of changing consumer preferences and expectations, particularly from Asian markets which are growing rapidly and undergoing significant demographic changes," he said.
"Destination marketing is not a one-size-fits-all discipline and what this new research helps us to do is fine-tune how we promote Australia in different markets.
"Demand triggers for holidaying in Australia vary market by market, and this work now helps us prioritise future marketing activities and spending."
Mr McEvoy said the research suggested the tourism industry was already doing a lot right and that the highest visitor intentions were from the booming Chinese and Indian middle classes.
But he said there remained a disconnect in some markets about personal safety in Australia, no doubt a lagging effect of the attacks on young Indian students some years ago.
The research was carried out in China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the US.
- Australia's biggest strength is its world class nature.
- The big drivers of international visitor demand were coastal (including beaches), aquatic and wildlife experiences.
- Tropical North Queensland, Sydney and the Gold Coast continued to rank highest for uniqueness and appeal.
- Australia rates No1 for safety amongst those who have visited.
- Perceptions of Australia's food and wine were mixed, but rankings were very high among those who had visited and sampled.
- Aspiration and intention to visit is very high across the board.
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