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Tourism Advisory Forum 7 April 2022

Venue: National Convention Centre, Canberra


Andrew McKellar CEO Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Karen Quinlan AM Director of National Portrait Gallery Australia

Ritu Clementi AMEX Global Client Group, Asia Pacific Region


Andrew McKellar CEO Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

ACCI Presentation Tourism Advisory Forum 7 April 2022
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Mr McKellar discussed the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (ACCI) focus on the national economy and the business impact of COVID-19. Almost 80% of activities undertaken by ACCI were related to COVID-19 and there is a large focus within the organisation on reopening the Australian economy to international markets.

Mr McKellar noted that prior to the pandemic, Australia had achieved 28 years of continual economic growth and the tourism sector contributed over $60 billion to economy activity (see detailed statistics on slide 3 of the presentation).

Mr McKellar discussed the economic outlook for 2022.

  • Despite some weakness in the March quarter from the impacts of the Omicron variant, the economy is expected to build momentum in 2022.

  • Some sectors are struggling more than others in economic recovery and there are constraints on the supply side with labour shortages and supply chain shortages.

  • Mr McKellar believes governments held onto a zero COVID philosophy for too long and this had a negative impact on the tourism economy.

  • Mr McKellar encourages strong investment in the tourism market to increase international visitors.

Mr McKellar noted a varied outlook between international and domestic travel and tourism. The data shows:

  • there is pent up demand for travel from border restrictions, with outbound demand for international travel outstripping inbound demand.

  • the pipeline of incoming international forward bookings is short term with most of the bookings for the next few months – Mr McKellar noted that this is a challenge for the sector.

  • consumer intention to travel domestically reduced 10% from December 2021 to January 2022, largely due to a fear of contracting COVID-19. However domestic travel forward bookings have recovered well and are now at 93% of pre-pandemic levels.

Mr McKellar noted that economic fundamentals are good but there are risks to recovery including:

  • the potential of emerging COVID variants to impact the economy

  • the winter disaster preparedness plan is not fully developed and National Cabinet will not meet again for some time due to the Federal election.

Mr McKellar said the Chamber is providing input to the National Disaster and Preparedness Plan with regular engagement with a range of agencies including Emergency Management Australia and the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency. The Chamber aims to ensure industry is part of the dialogue during early response phases through to longer-term recovery. He said that it’s fundamentally important to ensure that small business is buttressed from the impacts of natural disasters and he noted the importance of access to affordable insurance.

Mr McKellar discussed recent government announcements regarding the THRIVE 2030 tourism strategy and welcomed the positive and ambitious targets. He noted the recent budget announcements for international tourism marketing but said there needs to be more investment along with a focus on addressing fundamental challenges around labour and skills shortages. Mr McKellar said we have got to have a stronger strategy around investment in vocational education and training, skills and apprenticeships. He said the Chamber recently launched some new research around overcoming Australia's labour and skills shortages.

Mr McKellar discussed the need for older Australians to have a greater financial incentive to remain in the workforce. Compared to New Zealand, there are half a million more Australians retiring early rather than remaining in the workforce full or part-time.

Answering a question regarding why the tourism industry lacks political muscle, Mr McKellar claims the tourism industry does have political muscle and noted the hard work and advocacy of the sector in providing practical solutions for recovery. He said the sector is a significant part of the Australian economy.


Karen Quinlan AM Director National Portrait Gallery Australia

Ms Quinlan noted that the National Portrait Gallery is a relatively young institution, opening in the early 1990s. She gave an overview of the impacts of COVID in the past few years and the gallery’s refurbishment and renovation in that time, both of which impacted visitor access. Ms Quinlan said she is now feeling very optimistic about the future.

Ms Quinlan provided an overview of the current Shakespeare to Winehouse Exhibition and some early visitation statistics:

  • 36% of visitors live in the ACT

  • 64% of visitors are interstate

  • 1% international (expected to increase)

  • 43% said the exhibition was the reason they visited Canberra

  • 48% of those visiting were staying in 4 to 5 star luxury hotels

  • 55% of visitors said the exhibition exceeded their expectations

  • There has been a spike in visitors aged 45 – 55

The exhibition is now on and ends on the 17th of July.

Ms Quinlan noted the Gallery is focussing on attracting a younger audience and the outreach program is still important. She said the Gallery has an extensive range of exhibitions planned through the remainder of this year and in 2023.

Answering a question about whether the gallery will be expanding, Ms Quinlan said there are no current plans for further expansion for the National Portrait Gallery.


Ritu Clementi AMEX Global Client Group, Asia Pacific Region

Ms Clementi began with a macro comparison of Australia and the Asia Pacific and noted the following points with data collected through AMEX customer activities:

  • 72% of respondents of a recent McKinsey survey will travel as soon as they can.

  • Australian lodging demand remains well below pre-pandemic levels but is on a steady rise.

Ms Clementi noted:

  • According to IATA data, Air travel in Australia rose last year but decreased significantly with the emergence of the omicron variant –compared to the USA which experienced little decline in air travel during the omicron outbreak. Furthermore,

  • long haul travel is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels for some time American Express has launched multiple “return to travel” campaigns in an effort to increase travel.


The next Tourism Advisory Forum will be on the 9th of May at the National Convention Centre. Subscribe to get alerts about forum events.


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