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John O'Sullivan, Tourism Australia: Travel to change the world

With sustainable tourism fast climbing the travel and tourism agenda, we’re discussing the topic with travel industry leaders and change makers and asking them how they think we can #Traveltochangetheworld.

With sustainable tourism fast climbing the travel and tourism agenda, we’re discussing the topic with travel industry leaders and change makers and asking them how they think we can #Traveltochangetheworld.

In our latest ‘Travel to change the world’ interview, John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, shares his thoughts and ideas on how we can all do our bit to sustain the industry and leave a legacy of goodness.

 

What was it that inspired you to join the travel industry?

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My decision to join the industry was inspired by a number of factors.

Firstly, the impact it has on communities and the country. Forget the economic side of the discussion but look at the people to people impacts.

Secondly, I love the entreprenurial culture of the industry – think of the stories of Andrew Burnes and ‘Skroo’ Turner.

And, finally I love the fact that it is an industry of the modern Australian economy.

 

What concerns you about the industry today in terms of its long-term viability?

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I’m not sure that I have any. Certainly not many.

This industry has dealt with a number of disruptive changes over successive years with a greater deal of success than most other industries. There are no Kodaks in the industry that I can think of.

The rapid pace of change is an area that the industry must deal with and that can be a challenge for a sector dominated by SMEs. However, overall I think this industry is one of the most resilient I can think of.

 

Do you think travel can change the world?

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Of course it can. And it does!

It does this by the people to people connections that only travel can create.

You think about your own experiences whereby you go to a new destination and you come away understanding it better than you would just by reading about it.

 

Are you seeing positive change happening in the industry that you really admire?

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We are seeing the emergence of people’s stories as experiences.

Take Rob Ennicott in Tasmania. His experiences (Bruny Island Tours and Seafood Seduction Tours) are really about him and his family. People have voted with their feet and he is absolutely killing it. He is a passionate advocate for Australia, Tasmania and the industry. He embraces competition and he is also just a delightful man.

 

What projects is Tourism Australia undertaking in this space?

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By our very existence, Tourism Australia is about promoting that people to people connectivity via growing visitation to Australia. It’s at the heart of what we do.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge the industry faces in terms of the issue of ’sustaining’ itself?

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Red tape. We are a very regulated industry.

Deregulation is the key to growth and the key to dealing with disruption. It is also the key to unlocking some of the great experiences our country has to offer.

We need to embrace it!

Do you think travel can change the world? Share your comments below.