Tourism Australia Snags ‘Noma’ For Barangaroo Opening… But At What Cost?

A projected image of Barangaroo...

A projected image of Barangaroo…

Tourism Australia has recently been battling suggestions that the industry is in need of an overhaul, after a Bloomberg article criticised Australia’s tourism industry for outdated ‘Crocodile Dundee’-era hotels, less-than-ideal customer service and an inability to capitalise and compete with growing regional hot-spots.

In the Bloomberg article, former PM Paul Keating gave his own, unique summary of the situation. “Chinese visitors aren’t going to come here for hotels and resorts built in the 1980s and 1990s,” Mr. Keating wrote to Bloomberg. “They will drift off to bigger and better things, along the lines of what’s being done in China itself and in countries like Vietnam.”

“We will have to lift the bar in terms of the quality of what we have to offer,” Mr. Keating suggested. “This will be a challenge for the next five to seven years given incomes in China will continue to rise and expectations with it. The capital stock in Australian tourism will require large increments.”

In Australia, new developments such as Barangaroo will hope to make the most of a fresh start. With all eyes trained on the entertainment and accommodation precinct being carved out along the Sydney Harbour, Tourism Australia is hoping that its latest efforts will result in heightened interest.

As part of their ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign, the organisation is spending a whopping $500,000 to bring Noma, the world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant, down to Sydney for an exclusive 10 week residency. The event – set to take place in January of 2016 – will surely attract a sizeable crowd. But is it worth the money?

A spokesman for Tourism Australia explained the figure to the attendant media. “TA is spending approximately $500,000 on this campaign, half of which will be given to our airline partner Singapore Airline for discounted tickets to facilitate travel for Rene and his team to Australia,” he explained. “Rene will be back and forth to Australia several times before the official opening in Australia – which we plan to use to develop content and PR ops around.”

Echoing this sentiment, Tourism Australia boss John O’Sullivan said the PR move would hopefully revive our ‘culinary standing’. “A big part of Restaurant Australia has been about improving Australia’s perception as a food and wine destination,” he said. “And, with one of the world’s top ranked restaurants about to open in Sydney, I’d say our country’s culinary standing has never been higher.”

With recent statistics revealing a boost to Australia’s tourism receipts, the announcement has left some scratching their heads as to the credence of Bloomberg’s claims. After all, tourists flock to Australia for much more than a five-star hotel and a fine meal, don’t they? But as PM Keating points out, our regional competitors are also re-doubling their efforts to attract a new generation of cashed-up international travellers. And that’s where we might run into trouble.


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