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Tourism Advisory Forum 9 May 2022

Venue: National Convention Centre, Canberra


Andrew Barr MLA ACT Chief Minister and Tourism Minister

Professor Paddy Nixon Vice Chancellor University of Canberra

Johanthan Kobus Director Visit Canberra


ACT Chief Minister and Tourism Minister

Jetstar announcement

  • The Chief Minister noted there is one big news story for tourism today – the announcement by Jetstar they are expanding Canberra network flights with new flights between Melbourne – Canberra and Gold Coast – Canberra.

  • This represents a significant increase in the market and is on the back of the Brisbane service which was extraordinarily successful for Jetstar.

  • The Chief Minister noted it is now the most competitive aviation environment for Canberra and part of the government's long-term goal of making it cheaper and easier to get to Canberra.


  • The Chief Minister said the ACT government will have a very strong presence next week at the Australian Tourism Exchange 2022, and at the next important engagement, the CAPA Aviation Summit in Adelaide in September.

  • He said these engagements are in support of the government’s simple objective – more airlines flying to more destinations and cheaper fares.

Federal election

  • The Chief Minister said he is awaiting the outcome of the election with interest, noting it will have significant impact on the Territory for the next three years as Federal government spending priorities have a massive impact on Canberra.

The Chief Minister made the following comments in response to questions from the Forum Chair:

  • The ACT could override the mask mandate at the airport but questioned the value of doing so. The Chief Minister reiterated that he will continue to take health advice on issues like this, noting there are more people in hospital with COVID today than before and there is continued risk to the community, so we still need to be careful.

  • He would not speculate on what could trigger re introduction of COVID restrictions. The Chief Minister noted the focus has moved from daily case numbers to the more important statistics about the number of people in hospital and the capacity of the health system to cope. The Chief Minister stressed that vaccines are working and giving the community access to eased restrictions. He also noted that flu is circulating once again and urged people to get their flu shot.

  • When asked if the ACT government would provide support if tighter restrictions are imposed again, the Chief Minister said he would be surprised if we go back to tighter restrictions. He noted that around one third of Canberrans have now had COVID and much of the population is likely to get it at some point. He stressed that vaccines are the key to living with COVID.

  • Discussions with Singapore Airlines about potential international flights are progressing, but the Chief Minister said there are encouraging discussions happening with airlines across the Asia Pacific.

  • The Chief Minister’s next overseas visit is to Singapore in June, and then New Zealand in October. The ACT government continues to look at options for trans-Tasman travel.

  • The Chief Minister has already announced there will be an increase to the marketing budget for Visit Canberra however the amount will be made public in the upcoming budget.

  • Hybrid and flexible working arrangements are now permanent for the ACT's white collar workforce. The government is establishing flexible working hubs with staff able to work anywhere they want as long as it meets business needs. The Chief Minister noted this applies to only a small portion of the ACT public service.


Professor Paddy Nixon Vice Chancellor University of Canberra

Professor Nixon provided an overview of what he termed ‘Canberra’s University’ and how it contributes to the city.

Canberra Region Tourism Advisory Forum slides
Download PDF • 1.48MB

Key points

  • UC’s core purpose is to provide and develop the workforce of the ACT and region. Canberra is a vibrant and growing city, focused on the future and liveability – the UC campus is part of that.

  • UC is ranked as the fastest rising university in the world.

  • Professor Nixon is very proud that UC is #1 in the ACT for graduate salaries.

  • 100% of grads from the last five years in Pharmacy, Optical Science, Rehabilitation Therapies, Sport & Recreation and Architecture & Building took up jobs here in Canberra (see slide).

  • While UC’s heart is here in Canberra, Professor Nixon said they also need to start building more connection in surrounding regions.

  • UC began 32 years ago and has grown into a world class institution underpinned by great research in areas of core expertise – he used the example of how UC researchers are working to solve the issue of algal blooms in Lake Tuggeranong.

  • Professor Nixon discussed that UC was assessed against 1400 uni’s worldwide and ranked number 1 in the world for reducing inequalities. He said this reflects the DNA of the organisation which has always been about equity and opportunity.

What’s next for UC?

  • Professor Nixon said that after two and a half years in his role he couldn't be prouder of UC. His focus now is on helping and engaging in Canberra as part of the city's growth.

  • The new UC strategy has the working title ‘connected’. That means connected to Canberra, students and staff.

  • UC will continue to focus on what they’re good at in areas like Allied health, IT, Environment, Design and Architecture.

UC Master Plan

  • Professor Nixon believes the plan is sector leading and he looks forward to collaborating with industry and the broader community to ensure alignment with things like the health and wellbeing framework of ACT government.

  • He wants to ensure there’s an innovation and commercial focus in the implementation of the plan.

  • A strategy and expression of interest for the campus will released in approximately the next six months.

International students

  • International students are back on campus and represent a key component of the diverse university community.

  • Professor Nixon wants to grow the level of international students but says there is a balance with other priorities at a local level.

Response to questions

Professor Nixon noted that universities are:

  • drowning in red tape and it is a real challenge.

  • being asked to look at how to deal with foreign interference while balancing things like freedom of speech which is part of the heartland of universities.

  • working year to year for the last few years – he is looking to get back to a medium term focus.

Professor Nixon noted that UC is:

  • Keen to keep lobbying for light rail in stage 3

  • Looking at options for a sporting arena as part of the campus plan, and they are focused on their any future arena serving their community including the Canberra Capitals.


Johanthan Kobus Director Visit Canberra

CRTAF May 2022_final
Download PDF • 6.92MB

Mr Kobus noted that:

  • The city looks incredible now and they were taking advantage of this in the autumn campaign (refer slides for details).

  • Visit Canberra is marketing Canberra as a full season destination and taking more opportunities of the varied seasons on a range of activities across paid, owned and earned channels. Mr Kobus used the example of 65 billboards across SE QLD.

  • The Easter period was busy with indications that hotels had their busiest Easter in a number of years.


  • Mr Kobus noted the expansion of Jetstar services and said Visit Canberra is seeing strong growth in leisure market tourism. He said they will continue to leverage the domestic market while we rebuild international tourism.

  • Visit Canberra has been working with a range of social partners, influencers and magazines and continues to host them in Canberra. They are showcasing Canberra in different ways.

  • Examples of partnership creative are in the slide presentation.

  • The winter campaign is in development and will feature new imagery.

Mr Kobus reminded attendees about:

  • resources available as part of the Tourism Reboot

  • the Tourism Product Development Fund with applications closing 31 May

  • the Canberra Region Tourism Conference on June 6 and stressed that it will be an important way to connect and find out about more about the industry.


The next Tourism Advisory Forum will be combined with the Canberra Region Tourism Conference presented by Visit Canberra on Monday 6 June at the Hyatt Hotel

The July Forum is scheduled for Friday 1 July at the National Convention Centre. Subscribe to get alerts about upcoming events.


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