Australia still popular with Asians for meetings & incentives

THE STRONG Australian dollar and rising fuel surcharges imposed by carriers such as Malaysian Airlines have not dampened Asian interest for meetings and incentives in Australia, observed buyers at the 19th Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne.

While acknowledging Australia was more expensive than other Asia-Pacific destinations, Beijing-based Variarts Travel vice president of operations Mary Ma said her Chinese corporate clients saw the country as a “fresh destination with a bevy of (pre- and post-event) activities” to offer.

Bookings for Australia also continue to stream in for Malaysian agencies Trans-World Travel & Tour and Feature Tour, although they acknowledge the cost of taking an event there has become comparable to, if not pricier than, having it in Europe.

Richard Lee, marketing director, convention & incentive travel division of Trans-World Travel & Tour, said an eight-day incentive programme to Europe, at a cost of RM$6,000 (US$1,965) per delegate, could only buy a five-day programme in Australia.

E T Quah, Feature Tour’s director of sales, hopes that Australian hotels will help Asian MICE agents by offering lower rates for Asian markets or advise when low seasons are in place for buyers to enjoy better rates.

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