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Tony Charters and Associates Tourforce


Tourism is Your Business

Tony Charters and Associates releases a regular newsletter Tourforce keeping stakeholders of the tourism industry connected with current issues, research, events and funding opportunities.

Reproduction of any items from Tourforce is welcome, with acknowledgement of the source.

Welcome to Tourforce Edition 14


Currency Shifts not the Silver Bullet


The sliding Australian dollar has been championed as a ‘godsend’ for the tourism industry. However thinking back to the times when the Aussie dollar was barely 50+ cents in the US dollar – there was no flood of inbound tourists. Certainly 9/11, SARS, Bali bombings and other terrorist and health issues placed a serious dampener on travel during some of that time.

Travel time to Australia is a much more significant inhibitor than price. It is unlikely that the lower Australian dollar valuation will bring an immediate flow of inbound travellers. Clearly it can only help the situation, but great care must be taken not to assume that the inbound numbers are now just going to flow. It is more likely though to reduce the rate of outbound tourism – where price does seem to be a more critical driver of consumer choice.

The current global economic downturn and volatility of oil prices provide new dampeners to inbound travel in an environment where the Australian dollar might otherwise provide some incentive for an Australian visit. Hopefully domestic travel may receive a boost – although within the constraints of greatly diminished consumer confidence.

The celebrity economists have pointed to the benefits a lower dollar bring – internationals will now see Australia as more affordable destination and Aussies will be forced to re-think the recent love affair with those cheap and exotic destinations that have seduced them away from holidaying at home.

While the dollar was riding high it will have been a sweetener for many Australian’s looking at travelling overseas, Australia will never be able to compete with Asia-Pacific packages on cost because of the vast difference in labour markets and the impact that has on all aspects of tourism development and operations.

Austrade economist Tim Harcourt agrees the challenges are long term. He has stated that the local industry still has to face the challenge of labour supply constraints, low cost Asian airlines, and a weakening global economy.

Australia must place special emphasis on markets that are within its region (under ten hours flying time) or long haul markets that can accommodate long flights in their travel plans (eg backpackers, grey nomads, education travel). Australia must also focus on its unique competitive advantages – its nature, heritage, culture and lifestyle. The cold reality is that many of Australia’s competitors can match or exceed us on attributes such as price, service levels, variety and exotic experiences. They cannot match or exceed Australia on quintessential Australian experiences.

The National Landscapes Program provides an excellent opportunity to present Australia’s natural and cultural attributes – one of the nation’s strongest competitive advantages. Having teamed up with the Tourism Australia marketing campaign to be launched alongside the Australia epic movie there is a powerful partnership in the making. The new advertising campaign, developed with Baz Luhrmann seeks to build an emotional connection with consumers. It has relevance to all Australian destinations, and importantly seeks to cut through the usual inhibitors to converting a desire to travel to Australia to an actual booking.

Tony Charters  
Best Practice

Green Management Guide

The International Tourism Partnership has released the third edition of its industry guide to quality environmental management and sustainable operations. The manual provides hotels and other related businesses with the knowledge and means to develop practical solutions to green their operations. The manual focuses on key areas such as best practice energy management, water conservation, waste management, purchasing and supply chains, food safety and environmental health.

Further information:


Sustainable Tourism Case Studies

The Business Enterprises for Sustainable Tourism Education Network in Denmark has released an online publication comprising case studies of enterprises and destinations in developed and developing nations pursuing innovative practices that will lead to sustainability of their operations. The cases have also been prepared for use in teaching with case notes to facilitate discussion and further investigation of innovation in other industry sectors.

Further information:


Rainforest Research

The Skyrail Rainforest Foundation is providing $30,000 in support for James Cook University PhD, masters and honours students. Funding had been allocated to projects with a specific focus on tropical rainforest critical conservation issues and endangered species. The Skyrail Rainforest Foundation was established in 2005 with the primary objective of raising and distributing funds to support tropical rainforest research and education projects.

Further information:


Indigenous Involvement in Tourism

The aim of this research is to examine mainstream and Indigenous tourism operators and key industry stakeholders’ ideas, attitudes and experiences of Indigenous involvement in the tourism industry. In addition, the research was used to gauge perceived opportunities for further Indigenous tourism development.

Further information:


Tourism Forecasts

The Tourism Forecasting Committee has just released its forecasts for the industry for the period 2008-2017. International visitor arrivals to Australia are now expected to remain unchanged from 2007 levels at 5.6 million and to increase only moderately in 2009, by 3.2 percent.

Further information:


Climate Change and Tourism Report

A report on climate change and tourism ‘Responding to Global Challenges’ was commissioned by the World Tourism Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation. The report provides the current state of knowledge on the impacts of climate change for tourism destinations around the world including implications for tourist demand and greenhouse gas emissions. It also gives an overview of future policy and management responses for adaptation to climate change and mitigation of emissions.

Further information:


Tourism Learning Space

The Tourism Queensland Learning Space incorporates a series of info sheets and an interactive learning directory that provides information on learning and skills development opportunities including courses, resources and assistance. The material is designed for tourism operators, students and all other interested in improving their tourism knowledge and skills.

Further information:

Policy & Planning

Health Tourism Industry

An industry panel has been formed by the Australian Tourism Export Council to help develop the Health and Wellness travel sector in Australia and tap into the billion-dollar global Health Tourism industry. The Health and Wellness Tourism Panel has adopted a strategic framework to develop both the ‘soft’ wellness industry and the surgery-based medical tourism industry.

Further information:


Nature-based Tourism Strategy 2008-2012

The Victorian Government has released a Nature-based Tourism Strategy 2008-2012 which will assist in developing the tourism potential of Victoria’s natural attractions including the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, the Grampians, Gippsland and the High Country. The four-year strategy is backed by $12.45 million and is being jointly led by Tourism Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria. It has been developed following extensive consultation with the tourism industry, local government and key conservation groups.

Further information:


Export Market Development Grants

The Export Market Development Grants scheme is an Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters. Administered by Austrade, the scheme supports a wide range of industry sectors and products, including inbound tourism and the export of intellectual property and know-how outside Australia. To access the scheme businesses need to have spent $15,000 over two years on eligible export marketing expenses. Applications close on 1 December 2008.

Further information:


World Heritage Funding

The Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA) has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of $2.7 million for management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The funding for the Wet Tropics is part of $13 million allocated for World Heritage projects in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific. WTMA is an independent statutory authority established by agreement between the Australian and Queensland Governments to meet Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention.

Further information:


Wildlife Monitoring

Conservation Volunteers and Parks Victoria have joined forces to offer an opportunity for tourists to experience the Grampians National Park while monitoring vulnerable and endangered wildlife in the area. The Naturewise Wildlife Monitoring Ecotour supports conservation and scientific research through small hands-on tours which take participants off the beaten track to work directly with park rangers. In addition to the monitoring duties, visitors have a chance to explore the remote areas of the National park including areas that are normally in accessible to tourist.

Further information:

Cultural & Heritage Tourism

Maori Tourism

A New Zealand Government funded study is putting more focus into promoting and developing unique culture and heritage. Entitled ‘Te Tapoitanga Maori - Growing Regional Maori Tourism’, the study looked into what visitors want in a cultural experience and how to support Maori business development. It involved surveys and in-depth interviews of tourists and rural Maori tourism businesses throughout New Zealand. The four year study found Maori tourism is a largely untapped market in need of strong business development and support.

Further information:

Product Development

Econo Lodge in Australia

Choice Hotels Australasia will add its economy brand, Econo Lodge to its current product offering as a more affordable accommodation option to meet growing demand in the marketplace. The brand is one of its leading economy products in North America with almost 1000 properties either open or under development. Econo Lodge hotels will offer between 15 and 30 rooms and be 3 or 3.5 star rated. The first Australian Econo Lodge is expected to open in early 2009.

Further information:

Eco-Friendly Golf Bag

WILSON Staff has launched the world's first eco friendly golf bag made from 100 per cent polyester GreenPlus fabric. One golf bag is made from the equivalent of 12 plastic gallon bottles, similar to two-litre soda bottles. The process used to create the bag is said to reduce the release of carbon dioxide by 70 per cent compared to normal polyester production.

Further information:

Photo courtesy of Travellers Aid

Launch of Travellers Aid at Flinders Street Station

Travellers Aid recently launched a vibrant new centre at Flinders Street Station, Melbourne. Travellers Aid originally operated at Flinders Street Station until the early 1920's, so the opening of this new space is seen as an exciting, long-awaited return to one of Melbourne's most iconic and historically rich centrepieces.

Services provided by Travellers Aid at Flinders Street Station include travel and tourist information, personal care and support, parental needs and internet access. More information on Travellers Aid at Flinders Street Station can be found on the official website:

Climate Change

New Carbon Neutral Tourism Website

A new website was launched on World Tourism Day (27 September 2008) as the central gateway for information on solutions available to help the tourism sector respond to climate change. Users can learn about climate solutions that are available including access to resources such as RSS feeds and a Climate Solutions wiki. The initiative was developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in partnership with Microsoft.

Further information:

Great Tropical Drive Takes Off

In a landmark partnership project, Townsville Enterprise Ltd and Tourism Tropical North Queensland have successfully developed an iconic tourism drive route, known as the Great Tropical Drive. Made possible by grant from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Great Tropical Drive program aimed to break down the barriers to regional tourism growth and achieve on-going momentum through research, planning, development and marketing.

Tony Charters and Associates recently conducted an independent review of the project’s implementation and found that it had successfully met the funding program requirements which included:
o Establishing the Great Tropical Drive in Queensland as well as promoting and marketing the Drive this as a world class drive tourism product;
o developing opportunities to showcase sustainable/ecotourism, and indigenous tourism in such a way as to provide benefits to indigenous communities located in the Tropical North of Queensland; and
o supporting the local tourism industry to strategically plan for and manage the increased visitation achieved arising from the GTD.

The Great Tropical Drive project represents a comprehensive approach to tourism and regional development, through a program involving tourism destinations, businesses, professionals and organisations across a region that is diverse in its geography, natural features and tourism industry.

For more information on the Great Tropical Drive, visit


New Investment Guidelines

The Victorian Government has launched new Tourism Investment Guidelines. The guidelines entitled ‘Your Guide to Tourism Investment in Victoria’ are intended to assist in advancing projects from concept through to business planning and statutory planning stages.

Further information:


Pullman Hotel Brand

Accor’s position in the business events sector will be further enhanced with the launch of the new Pullman hotel brand. The first Pullman hotel in Australia has opened at the Sydney Olympic Park major events and meetings precinct. The Pullman brand is best known for its association with deluxe railway carriages which changed the face of accommodation and dining on trains in America, UK and Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Further information:


Caravan and Camping Park Facelift

The Victorian Government is providing almost $1.3 million for upgrades to Victoria’s Crown land caravan and camping parks. Fifty Victorian tourist parks will receive the grants to upgrade facilities and improve their environmental performance. Upgrades to facilities will include water and energy-saving measures such as water tanks, efficient showerheads, flow restrictors and energy-efficient light globes. Some projects will focus on improving sustainability by including dual-flush toilet cisterns, solar hot water systems or push button shower limiters.

Further information:$1.3-million-boost-for-caravan-and-camping-parks.html

Conferences & Events

Ecotourism and Protected Areas

The World Tourism Organization is organizing a seminar on ‘Ecotourism and Protected Areas’ to be held from 5 to 7 November 2008 in Mozambique. The seminar will be focusing on the contribution of ecotourism to community development, poverty reduction and financing of protected areas, as well as related social and environmental issues. The forum will address a wide range of questions from high-level tourism stakeholders to the private and public sector.

Further information:

World Responsible Tourism Day

World Responsible Tourism Day on 12 November 2008 is an initiative that aims to inspire, educate, challenge and stimulate travel companies and organisations large and small to take direct action. It was launched in association with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and is now supported by the leading industry associations. The program for 2008 will feature a series of presentations, debates, seminars and workshops on responsible tourism.

Further information:


Green Travel, Climate Change and Ecotourism Conference

Find out the latest information on Sustainable Tourism Strategies from Local and International Speakers and Network in beautiful Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island

The Inaugural Conference on Green Travel, Climate Change and Ecotourism will bring together some high profile speakers to tackle the issues the tourism industry face with changing legislation and the ever-increasing pressure to become more sustainable in all aspects of our businesses.

You will have the opportunity to network with speakers and other delegates throughout an interactive program over the course of four days. During this time, you will be engaging with others in a more intimate setting on your selected Regional Theme Stream, learning about the challenges of the tourism industry in Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island regions and how these relate to you.

This will not be just a listening exercise as you will have the opportunity to participate in discussions and raise questions to ensure you get the most value out of the event.


Tuesday Night Australian Experiences Gala Dinner, brought to you by Tourism Australia

The Tuesday night networking function will be held at the National Wine Centre and is inspired by the 7 core Australian Experiences. Proudly sponsored by Tourism Australia, it will be a night to remember – especially for those who walk away with an Australia eco experience through our live Gala Auction.

There are some fantastic holidays on offer which can be viewed via the following link:

All 3 Eco Awards will be announced during the event also – cause for more celebrations!

The dress theme is 1930’s dress inspired by Baz Luhrman’s movie Australia. So it’s time to get shopping!

For further information and to register online, visit Here you will find the full program and information on where to stay while in Adelaide and a list of our Keynote and Concurrent Speakers.


Australian Protected Areas Congress

This year is the Centenary of National Parks in Queensland and as part of celebrations the Environmental Protection Agency is holding the Australian Protected Areas Congress on the Sunshine Coast from 24 to 28 November. The congress will bring together experts in protected area management and research from across the Asia-Pacific region to explore the future of Australia's protected areas. The congress provides an opportunity for government, research institutions and non-government organisations to share the knowledge and thinking on terrestrial, freshwater and marine protected areas.

Further information:

Sustainable Transportation Campaign

Sustainable Travel International has launched a new campaign ‘Ride Local’ to educate communities and the general public about the benefits of sustainable transportation and highlighting bicycling industry green business practices. The Ride Local website features only bicycle manufacturers, shops and tour providers that have implemented sustainable business practices allowing cyclists to make informed purchasing decisions that align with their personal values.

Further information: