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ATE 2024: The new luxury and how Australia presents premium differently

At ATE 2024, Karryon Luxury spoke with Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, about the tourism board’s focus on high yielding travellers and what premium means in Australian tourism.

At ATE 2024, Karryon Luxury spoke with Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, about the tourism board’s focus on high yielding travellers and what premium means in Australian tourism.

On day one of ATE 2024, Phillipa Harrison shared during a press conference a number of key focus areas for Tourism Australia in the next 12 months. In addition to a focus on Indigenous tourism, distribution, agritourism, storytelling, and cruise/self drive, she spoke also of “premium redefined.”

“We always focus on high yielding travellers, which doesn’t necessarily mean high net worth individuals. It means travellers who love what we have to offer and are going to come here and experience and disperse around Australia….. and making the most of cultural events as they play out,” she said at the press briefing.

“From a premium point of view, we’ve always been a premium destination but we do premium a little bit differently here in Australia. It’s really about a sense of place and a unique and rare contact with our beautiful landscapes. We do believe in this moment that the world is really redefining their premium offering and it leads into wellness and adventure –  which is really leaning into Australia’s strengths. It’s a pretty exciting time for us.”

Outback dining at Longitude 131, Baillie Lodges.

In an interview with Karryon, Harrison expanded on the concept of what luxury and premium travel means in Australia, stating that Tourism Australia spends a lot of time thinking about who it is that represents the “sweet spot” for Australia.

“We have to be really laser focused on target segments. High yielding travellers and people who have a high propensity to travel…..they love what Australia has in terms of food and wine, and nature and wildlife are important to them. We’ve seen evidence that they travel to destinations and really disburse,” she said. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what luxury means from an Australian point of view and we know what it’s not – it’s not butlers at the door. It’s not gold taps in your bathroom or marble bathrooms (although we probably have all of that as well). It’s about this sense of place and this rarity of access to a really beautiful, pure and unique environment, that’s done in a really Australian way. 

“So you might have the best food and wine you can imagine, but it’s not on a white tablecloth – it’s actually on a picnic table overlooking the Great Southern Ocean.  That’s our luxury and we’re very focused on that….and the fantastic thing is, the world is also now focused on that,” she said.

Picnic at Spicers Peak Lodge overlooking Queensland’s Scenic Rim.

Speaking of its upcoming agritourism focus, Harrison said that people are more interested than ever before in where their food comes from. 

“They’re interested in their wellness, they’re interested in self care, and we actually do a really good job of that in Australia. We’re really leaning into that and our strengths in that area,” she said. 

ATE 2024 attracted 620 seller organisations and 602 buyer companies, and a total of 2,600 delegates. It is the largest tourism trade show in the southern hemisphere. 

On the closing day of ATE 2024, it was announced that Brisbane will host ATE 2025.

What some of their partners had to say

Several of Tourism Australia’s partners in its Signature Experiences of Australia program were present at ATE 2024, including Cultural Attractions of Australia, Luxury Lodges of Australia, Discover Aboriginal Experiences and Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia. 

Some partners shared the following feedback on ATE 2024 with Karryon:

ANNABEL SULLIVAN, Executive Director of Cultural Attractions of Australia
“The interest in cultural tourism and experiences is deepening as the trend for travellers seeking meaningful and authentic experiences continues. Many buyers noted the value of having a collective like Cultural Attractions of Australia, which offers a curated selection of cultural tourism experiences in one place, making it their first reference point when adding cultural offerings to their itineraries. They appreciated the diversity of experiences, especially the behind-the-scenes opportunities that are ideal for curious visitors looking to connect with Australian culture across the country’s leading galleries, museums, performing arts, historic sites and sporting attractions.”

Art-Gallery-of-NSW_Become-the-Artist-Installation-view-of-the-Grand-Courts_credit-Art-Gallery-of-New-South-Wales_Brett-Hemming_ATE 2024
At the Art Gallery-of-NSW on a Cultural Attractions of Australia private tour. Credit: Brett Hemming.

NICOLE MITCHELL, Executive Officer, Discover Aboriginal Experiences
“ATE was exceptionally successful for the Discover Aboriginal Experiences (DAE) collective and our members with both the DAE schedules full and additional buyers trying to get a slot! This year we also had 33 members represented at their own booth. 

“The demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism experiences continues to grow, as does the support for the collective from our distribution and media partners.  Today’s conscious traveller is increasingly seeking a new way of immersing themselves in the unique character of the destinations they visit. They want to feel a real connection to the culture, the people, and the natural world – exactly the kind of life-changing experiences that this collective can offer.”

A dot painting class with Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experiences and Tours in Watarrka Northern Territory.

PENNY RAFFERTY, Executive Chair, Luxury Lodges of Australia
“The interest in Luxury Lodges of Australia was enormous – reflecting the mobility and liquidity of the premium and luxury traveller even at a time of economic and geo-political unsettledness.  The blend of ‘absolute’ luxury and ‘aspirational’ or ‘occasional’ luxury traveller its still evident… it is not just about the super wealthy.

“More than ever our guests are seeking access to unspoiled nature – ‘remote luxury’ which Australia has in spades. There is increased awareness that personal wellbeing is aligned with the wellbeing of the planet and the places they visit….understanding that unspoilt nature is precious (a luxury) and seeking an element of exclusive (not crowded) connection with nature as luxury. 

“Guests do want to travel with family – there is a sense of luxury in experiencing these places together, and also a sense of ‘let’s do it now’, not wait. Part of our ‘remote luxury’ its the ability to deliver on the creature comforts of eat-drink-sleep well – this is expected by luxury travellers, however, there is better understanding of our style of delivery of high-end service: distinctively Australian, personal attention but not stuffy or overly formal.”

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, WA – a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia.