Despite the country being a challenge for travellers in terms of distance and costs, hosted buyers at the recent AIME show told TTGmice that what the country has to offer event planners and delegates often outweighs the negatives.
"Australia is a premium product," said Viboon Kamontho, registrar with the Thai Travel Agents Association and managing director of Big World Holiday Thailand.
"Even though Europe is cheaper, they love it here because Australia does the best party functions, there's more variety, good food and the culture is more relaxed," he said.
Viboon: best value for money
For Rahman Habeeb, director of Cosmac Computers India, it is his first visit to Australia but he already plans to make the country part of his company's mix for employee and client meetings.
"We've done Europe and made multiple trips to Asia-Pacific so Australia has become very attractive. It's a very long journey for them but at the end of the day, it's (Donald) Bradman's country," he said, referring to the cricket icon. "People want to visit the museums and stadiums, and they're willing to travel the distance to see it."
"It's not just Sydney and Melbourne anymore. Gold Coast, Brisbane and Perth are also interesting options so we will try to plan for a multi-city trip so they can experience (each city's) unique offerings, including the negatives," he added.
Judy Kingston, associate programme manager at event planning group MCI Australia, agreed that Australia has plenty to offer to keep delegates coming back.
"There are different areas that sell the country better. Melbourne is particularly good, but I think Australia as a whole is very good at it. Our facilities and quality of programmes we put together justify the expense," she said.
However, Viboon warns that the cost and lack of accommodation may hurt Australia's potential to gain from the current demand.
"Too many leisure tourists are coming to Australia filling up rooms and hotel rates are very high compared to Europe," he pointed out. But part of that problem is being addressed with a number of hotels being built in Australia's major cities over the next few years.
Still, Habeeb said that Australia is in a good position to sustain demand with offerings not available anywhere else. "Europe is more about parties but these days parties are also available in India. And there are no kangaroos in Europe!" he said.