Australians gravitate towards overseas MICE destinations

THE STRONG Australian dollar has drawn more meetings and incentives overseas and raised the quality of land components purchased, reported some local event organisers.

Sharon Leonhardt, owner of Travel Traits Western Australia, told TTG Asia e-Daily that more of her Australian clients were headed for farther destinations such as the US, Italy and France.

“The average incentive duration is still eight to 10 days, but more participants are extending their stay in the destination on their own accounts after the event. Some are spending up to three weeks,” she said.

Leonhardt noted that with stronger buying power, Australian incentive clients were also asking for better quality programmes, such as fine dining.

“It is cheaper to take an event to Indonesia, for instance, than to another city in Australia. Airfares are almost the same, but the cost (of land component) in Indonesia is far lower,” she added.

Song Huang, programme manager of the Asia Literacy Teacher’s Association of Australia, agreed, saying that the room rate of a four-star hotel in Australia was equivalent to that of a five-star hotel in Asia.

The same growth trajectory was seen by Jumeirah Group, which registered a 25 per cent growth in Australian business from 2010 to 2011, said its vice-president of sales & marketing for Asia-Pacific, David Loiseau. He noted that more companies were also booking the luxurious Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

However, an Asia-Pacific manager of a TMC warned that there were underlying cracks in the Australian market, explaining that the strong dollar would impact exports, hurting corporate profits and eventually softening the demand for business events.

“Not many local Australian companies are comfortable with taking incentives out of their country, so those who cannot afford to run events within Australia would rather forgo such activities altogether,” he said.

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