UPDATED: BIC proposes National Land Transport Tourism Plan

By: Jason Whittaker

Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson and more than 30 Labor MPs, Senators and staff, and members of the Victorian and

Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson and more than 30 Labor MPs, Senators and staff, and members of the Victorian and New South Wales bus industry were presented with the Bus Industry Confederation’s (BIC) National Land Transport Tourism Plan at a combined BIC and Labor Friends of Tourism dinner on Tuesday night (September 15).

Bus Association of Victoria Executive Director Chris Lowe presented the case for the development of a national land tourism plan to guests at Parliament House.

The National Land Transport Tourism Plan aims to develop strategies to attract some of the 1.5 million or so international visitors who travel by plane over Australia to shift to coach or bus travel.

According to figures from Tourism Research Australia, the long distance coach or bus sector carried 285,000 international visitors in 2008, comprising a 12 percent share of the total international visitor market.

"These average figures compare very well with aircraft travellers who spend less time in the country, and on average spend less money," Lowe says.

"In fact an international visitor travelling by coach is worth almost 20 percent more to the economy than an international visitor travelling by plane; a good reason to see if we can increase the size of this market."

BIC would see the plan developed through a cooperative approach between the government, the tourism industry and the industries involved – similar to the National Road Tourism Strategy – with the key objective of informing future policy making by all levels of government in the tourism area.

"We see investment in the right areas as being both a driver and the natural progression of this plan," Lowe says.

"The bus industry believes strategic international missions to expand existing and find new potential tourism markets can be a vital part of a growth strategy for regional tourism.

"This is not about getting tourists here to look at icons but to promote ‘how to see’ Australia."

Marketing Australia as a tourist destination is a key aspect of promoting the product, Lowe says.

He says the marketing focus trained on surf, sun, sand and the red centre has gone on too long and has promoted a ‘fly into Sydney, go to Queensland, see our beaches, go and see Uluru and then fly out’ program.

"This is fine and it works, but there is more to see and we need to educate tourists fully about their options before they arrive from overseas," he says.

"We have been bound by a focus on destinations fed into by air travel without equal attention paid to travel experiences on the doorstop of these destination icons or our own back door."

Land Tourism Compendium
BIC proposes the development of a Land Tourism Compendium.

The compendium would be pulled together on a State by State basis, outlining 80 tourism regions and provide an insight into the land transport experiences available, the land transport travel options to get there and the attractions that connect them.

"Once these unique travel experiences are identified, a marketing strategy focused on sending the message to international and domestic visitors that these ‘once in a lifetime’ trips are out there should follow," Lowe says.

"The development of this compendium, by the governments involved in our 80 tourism regions, as a tangible tool for domestic and international tourists can be the first step in the identification of specific land based travel routes which can be marketed for the unique experiences they offer."

An example might be the development of a ‘wine trail’ bus tour, which would take international tourists across Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia over a three-week period and would be supported by State and Local Governments, and a better national marketing approach.

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