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Tourism Advisory Forum 3 February 2022

Venue: National Convention Centre, Canberra


His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng High Commissioner for Singapore

Patrick McIntyre Chief Executive National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Garry Watson OAM Project Leader National Capital Education Tourism Project

Jonathan Kobus Director VisitCanberra


His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng High Commissioner for Singapore

His Excellency discussed the immediate future of the Australia – Singapore tourism relationship. He expressed gratitude that the two countries were able to establish a safe travel arrangement in November 2021. The upside for the tourism industry was an increase in international tourism to Australia, with 15% of this coming from Singapore.

His Excellency made it clear that we are still a long way from pre-covid tourism levels, but there is a strong determination from government officials in both Singapore and Australia to keep the boarder open and continue the travel arrangements.

Transit through Singapore for travellers originating from Australia is almost what it used to be, with tourists being able to go shopping and access airport lounges. However, there are still some destinations that are classified as ‘high risk’ in which travellers do not have these freedoms.

His Excellency provided the following key points about Singapore Airlines flights and events:

  • Singapore Airlines now serves 89 destinations, 98 including cargo destinations.

  • 100 flights arrive in major Australian cities per week.

  • Four flights land in Sydney per day, two of which require full proof of vaccination.

  • Masks are still mandatory onboard all flights.

  • The Canberra to Singapore direct flight may return if Singapore Airlines traffic to Sydney airport increases.

  • The Formula 1 event will return to Singapore this year, having recently signed a contract extension.

His Excellency provided the following overview of COVID-19 in Singapore:

  • There are currently 359,000 cases of COVID-19 in Singapore.

  • There have been 858 deaths as of February 3,2022.

  • 92% of the population is vaccinated.

  • 58% of the population has received a booster shot.

  • There is no longer an immediate focus on daily case numbers.

  • Positive cases can exit quarantine 72 hours after a negative ART test (ART is the equivalent of a Rapid Antigen Test in Australia).

  • At the peak of the Omicron outbreak in Singapore, 99.7% of cases have low or mild symptoms, 0.3% require oxygen supplementation, 0.04% require ICU treatment, with a death rate amongst the infected of 0.02%.

  • At the peak of the Delta outbreak, 98.1% of cases had low or mild symptoms, 1.6% required oxygen supplementation, 0.2% require ICU treatment, with a death rate of 0.1% amongst the infected.

His Excellency commends both Australia and Singapore on making proportionate and rational decisions regarding the virus and restrictions.


Patrick McIntyre Chief Executive National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NSFA)

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia dates back to 1935 and is one of the oldest film and sound archives in the world. The archive is famous for holding ‘Ned Kelly’, the first feature length film in the world. The NFSA holds over 3 million items including historic films, old television adverts, biographies, and an extensive range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections.

Mr McIntyre expressed a desire to share the NFSA’s collection with the public. He discussed the following points:

  • The NFSA has a theatre which screens historic footage during the day.

  • Galleries can be used for educational experiences and exhibitions.

  • The NFSA has just opened their latest exhibition ‘Australians in Hollywoodwhich is the NFSA’s first full exhibition in 20 years.


Garry Watson OAM Project Leader of the National Capital Education Tourism Project

The National Capital Tourism Education Project (NCTEP) is a partnership between the National Capital Attractions Association and the ACT government. Mr Watson gave the following overview of the NCTEP:

  • The ACT government has signed a new agreement with the NCTEP granting additional funds through the Tourism Investment Programto increase the number of attractions available.

  • The ACT government has committed to helping the NCTEP support the accommodation sector through the Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund.

  • In 2019, there were 172,000 students from 3500 schools that visited Canberra through the NCTEP. That was over 5000 students per week.

  • Students stay an average of three nights and visit 11 to 12 cultural institutions.

  • Overall, NCTEP is worth $150 million per annum to the ACT economy.

  • One of the successful programs is called Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER). Each year the federal government contributes $5 million to support approximately 100,000 students with the rebate. The program was increased for 2021 and increased again for 2022 specifically because of the covid circumstances.

Mr Watson recognised that school excursions were cancelled for some time during the COVID lockdowns. The market recovered well in the first half of 2021 as 63,000 students visited from February to June, or around 65% of pre-covid visitation numbers.

School visitations in all jurisdictions have been cancelled for the first term of 2022, however Mr Watson estimates that 75,000 students will visit the ACT during 2022.

Mr Watson provided the following overview of the NCTEP’s COVID response:

  • Students require a personal health declaration signed by a parent or guardian.

  • The NCTEP has permission to test a child for COVID-19 if there is a suspected case.

  • Protocols include a comprehensive outbreak management plan that was successfully used twice in the early 2021 period.

  • There was no outbreak amongst the 63,000 students visiting Canberra between February and June 2021.

  • No school can travel without fully vaccinated staff and support staff.

  • These protocols were approved by ACT health.


Jonathan Kobus Director VisitCanberra

Mr Kobus provided an overview of plans to attract tourists and increase overnight visitors, including:

  • Increasing the awareness of experiences offered in Canberra to key markets through adverts, including outdoor placements.

  • VisitCanberra is working with Rex, Virgin Australia, and JetStar to increase aviation tourism to Canberra.

  • JetStar now connects Canberra to Southeast Queensland. JetStar related bookings have increased by 30%.

Mr Kobus noted the following points about government funding for the sector:

  • 27 projects were funded across 97 businesses through the Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund.

  • There were 39 applications for over $1 million in grant funding. A great signal that the industry is ready to invest in activities that drive demand in Canberra.

  • Details of the COVID Safe Co-investment Program will be coming soon.


The next Tourism Advisory Forum will be on Tuesday March 8. Subscribe to get alerts about forum events.


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