Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1723 ..
The reason I reflect upon this is that more than a decade’s worth of work in partnership with the tourism industry, with the hospitality industry, with arts and the cultural organisations, has seen most of those perceptions shift dramatically. Whenever a city introduces a new brand, as we did with CBR back pre-Canberra centenary, when you first launch, there are a variety of views on the branding. Some people say it is fantastic and others say that it is the worst city branding exercise ever undertaken.
Mr Parton: Of course, we will always support you, mate. Don’t worry about that.
MR BARR: I do note this: at the time there was a somewhat muted response but there was an outright hostility from the opposition. But you normally take that as a barometer of these things. Over time people do voluntarily pick up and start using the brand; and clearly that has been the case, in that CBR has become very well established and well utilised across many different sectors of the community. I note many members proudly wear their CBR badges, not every day but most of the time. The flexibility and adaptability of the brand have proven its worth over nearly a decade now, together with the evolution of the city’s marketing and, importantly, product development.
The recognition in Dr Paterson’s motion of the various awards that the city has received over that time is important, but, of course, in seeking branding and new marketing there is always the question of what is next. In that context, I think what Dr Paterson has outlined, and the process and engagement that I think would be possible through the National Park City Foundation, represents an opportunity for us—and one that we are pleased to pursue.
Prior to the pandemic the ACT was smashing all-time records for both domestic and international visitation. The city’s reputation had improved considerably and the quality of the tourism and visitor experience in Canberra had improved exponentially from where it was back in 2006.
I am very confident in the underlying strength of our product and our offering. As we put back together our domestic aviation network and as we put back together our international aviation network in time, making it cheaper and easier for people to come to Canberra, I am very confident that we will see a quick rebound and return to the all-time record levels of tourism that Canberra had been experiencing.
It is not just about tourists. As Dr Paterson has indicated, it is also about the people who live here. When you go back to the essence of the brand and its authenticity, it had to be embraced by Canberrans. This is a lesson we learnt from our sister city, Wellington, who for two decades have been running the Absolutely Positively Wellington campaign. It works. Wellington was given the title of the coolest little capital in the world as a result of a concerted, long-term effort by the buy-in of their own residents. If you do not believe it yourself, it is very hard to sell it to everyone else.