13 June 2008

Sydney dominates latest Australasian travel “Oscars”

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Sydney hosted and dominated the prestigious Australasian World Travel Awards ceremony earlier this week at Sydney’s Observatory Hotel. But, the city, who won seven of the thirteen awards presented to Australia, is also under fire from tourism officials around the country for its weak marketing strategy.

The awards have been coined the Oscars of the travel industry, and are judged by tens of thousands of travel professionals worldwide.  The annual event has two rounds of awards, starting with eight regional ceremonies and culminating in the global finale, which will be held this year in the Caribbean. 

Graham Cooke, World Travel Awards President and Founder, praised the 429 companies who participated in the Australasian awards this year.  “There was immense pride in the amazing achievements of all the winners, who are an example, not only to the region, but also to the international travel and tourism industry,” he said.

New Zealand was not far behind Australia with reaping the rewards of providing internationally renowned tourism facilities.  The country's adventure capital, Queenstown, won two awards for the Leading Boutique Hotel (the Spire) and the Leading Ski Resort in Australasia for a second consecutive year, while Wellington’s InterContinental Hotel also took home the Leading Business Hotel award, amongst others.

The most esteemed award, the Leading Destination Award, was presented to Sydney.  Qantas also came top with the Leading Airline Award, while Sydney’s airport and airport hotel (Stamford Plaza) bumped up the tally for the city. 

With results like these, Sydney’s tourism numbers should be growing year by year, but the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that NSW and Sydney have lost twice the national average of holiday-makers to NSW this year.  The newspaper did admit though that the numbers of people on a working holiday in Australia and New South Wales had not changed dramatically, and that backpackers from the UK and Europe were a stable source of tourist income.

This week, the NSW State Government promised AUD$40,000 to fund a three-year marketing project to boost Sydney’s and NSW’s tourism numbers.  A commissioned report from the Chief Executive of the Australian Rugby Union, John O’Neil, claims that the state’s laissez faire approach to their marketing strategy is holding back opportunities for the rest of the country and is simply not working. 

For the first time ever, Melbourne’s income from domestic tourism has outshone Sydney, and the famous city’s industry will take another blow this week with the head of Tourism NSW resigning from his position, reports the Herald Sun.   

O’Neil has suggested a rebranding for Sydney to be marketed to the world, and a new advisory board to be set up to help the Tourism Minister maintain fresh approaches to the money-making industry.  Sydney has set a high standard for tourism; all the tourism industry has to do is use its charm to entice visitors to Australia.

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