Page 1725 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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time under lights—a centenary infrastructure legacy—at Manuka oval, the British and Irish Lions tour match, the women’s Australian golf open and an Anzac rugby league test match.

Through the ACT government’s special event fund, a total of $1.84 million was invested in four blockbuster cultural exhibitions across the centenary year. An unprecedented three were held at the National Gallery of Australia. This investment leveraged an additional $2.74 million in destination marketing and attracted a combined 600,000 visitors, with two-thirds coming from interstate. This generated over $124 million in economic value for the territory economy.

The centenary year was indeed a bumper year for tourism, with a year-long calendar of events, a significant amount of media and advertising coverage and major blockbuster events at the National Gallery. It was always going to be challenging to maintain those centenary year visitor levels in the years immediately following. The overall drop in visitor night numbers in 2014, though, can largely be attributed to a reduction in business travel as a result of the federal government’s commonwealth public service contractions. The 2014 calendar year saw business visitor nights decrease compared to 2013, and they fell significantly in the final quarter of 2014.

Despite this downturn in business travel, the story in the leisure sector was very different. Visitor nights in the leisure sector in 2014 grew by 8.8 per cent, to a total of 334,000 visitor nights. This is undoubtedly a reflection of the ongoing investment being made in the staging of events and the delivery of innovative marketing campaigns, including the Australian tourism award-winning human brochure campaign. This was a world-first tourism advocacy program utilising social media as a communications platform to promote the region’s attractions and experiences.

The human brochure campaign was then backed up by the 101 local humans campaign that built advocacy amongst Canberrans for the broad range of experiences available in our city and in the region. The campaign encouraged the community to share their experiences via social media and, importantly, to invite their friends and relatives from elsewhere in Australia to come to Canberra. Since this campaign was delivered, growth in the visiting friends and relatives component of our market has continued. For the year ending December 2014, visitor nights increased by 506,000 in the visiting friends and relatives market compared to the previous year.

Major events are also proven drivers of visitors, and fantastic major events over the past six to nine months have cemented Canberra’s place on the global sporting and festival stage. Floriade recorded its largest ever attendance figure and a record $47 million in direct visitor expenditure. The final attendance figure of 481,854 represented a seven per cent increase on the previous year and included 103,000 interstate and international visitors who came to Canberra specifically for the event.

It is worth noting that one of the legacies of the centenary year was investment in Manuka oval. This led to Canberra’s biggest ever summer of cricket fixtures over the summer just past. We saw the Australian team return to Manuka, taking on South Africa in a one-day international, the Prime Minister’s XI match on 14 January, and a sell-out crowd for the KFC T20 Big Bash final at the end of January. These fixtures demonstrated that there is a strong appetite across the Canberra region for high quality

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