Tourism Australia held its annual Destination Australia conference at ICC Sydney on 13 March 2024, with the theme of ‘The next chapter for sustainable growth’.

It was the biggest-ever Destination Australia event, with more 1000 industry representatives and media attending in person and online, including Destination NSW.

Aunty Margret Campbell from Dreamtime Southern X gave a stirring Welcome to Country, followed by Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison's opening address, which offered insights into what the future growth of the Australian visitor economy looks like and also outlined Tourism Australia’s strategy and approach.

Karl Stefanovic returned as MC and was joined by an array of industry leaders including Minister for Trade and Tourism Senator the Hon Don Farrell and Tourism Australia’s Chair Michael Issenberg, who reaffirmed the Tourism Australia Board’s direction in line with the conference theme - to prioritise the importance of creating a sustainable future for the industry in an ever-changing world.

Broadening the diversity and accessibility of travel

Last year's discussion at Destination Australia of accessible tourism was described by many as a watershed moment.

The conversation continued around how to capture and shape demand in this space with a panel discussion facilitated by Karl Stefanovic with Carly Findlay OAM, award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist; Ryan Smith, Chief Executive Officer, The Access Agency; and Tracey Corbin-Matchett OAM, Chief Executive Officer, Bus Stop Films.

Looking to the future

A panel of CEOs outlined their views on the outlook, priorities and trends for 2024. The panel, facilitated by Tourism Australia EGM Corporate Affairs Bede Fennell included Tourism Holdings Limited CEO Grant Webster, Sydney Airport CEO Scott Charlton and Business Events Sydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith.

Megatrends for 2024 and beyond

As we focus on the future and potential transformation of the industry, Destination Australia conference attendees heard from Skift Editor in Chief Sarah Kopit following the launch of their global megatrends.

The power of storytelling

Tour guides are the frontline storytellers of our industry and Australia. As we look to the future, Tourism Australia noted that this is a career path we must nurture and celebrate.

A panel discussion took place facilitated by Karl Stefanovic with Yura Tours' Elisha Kissick, Splendour Tailored Tours' Sladjana Hidosan, Splendour Tailored Tours; Tasmanian Wild Seafood Adventures' Shane Wilson and Venture North's Dave McMahon.

Marketing effectiveness and driving future demand

Competition for the international dollar has never been fiercer, as attendees heard from experts Previously Unavailable Founding Partner James Hurman and Tourism Australia Chief Marketing Officer Susan Coghill on how to be the most effective you can be in marketing and driving demand.

Aviation in 2024: what to expect

Tourism Australia noted that success of the Australian visitor economy is intertwined with aviation pricing and capacity.

Attendees heard an overview from aviation analyst and author Peter Harbison about the state of play and outlook for aviation, as well as a dive into what 2024 looks like for Qantas with CEO, Qantas International and Freight Cam Wallace.