You could call it a partnership forged in love – love for travel, for business events and for two destinations that are co-joined by their history and future. One needs the other to thrive. And it was sealed on February 4, Valentine’s Day, at a media and industry event.
The gift exchange between the two parties was also significant (see featured image). She received an aboriginal work of art. He received a model of the A380 – Singapore Airlines was the first airline to operate the aircraft to Australia and it was the first aircraft to return to Australia as soon as the Singapore flag carrier could resume normal services to the continent, after pandemic restrictions were lifted.
And thus was the first partnership between Singapore Airlines and Tourism Australia to specifically promote business events from the UK And Asia to Australia sealed officially in Singapore.
Andrew Hogg, executive general manager of Eastern Markets and Aviation, Tourism Australia, called it the result of a nine-month courtship and “only the best partners can hold this event on Valentine’s Day”, he quipped.
JoAnn Tan, senior vice president marketing planning, said it signalled a “strong commitment” to Australia, a destination SIA has been flying to for 55 years and “which was unbroken during Covid as we kept essential supply chains open”.
With SIA operating 111 weekly services to seven cities in Australia, she said it looked forward to collaborating in the recovery of travel to Australia “after three years of winter”.
Hogg called it a “significant” partnership given its focus on incentive events and a wide region and both parties would be contributing financially towards the three-year agreement which would involve marketing, participation in trade events as well as fam trips covering the UK and Asia.
He declined to disclose the amount committed but said there are “clear deliverables on number of groups on routes and passengers” and that it would be reviewed annually.
Clearly, for a destination like Australia, airline capacity is vital to recovery and Hogg said that globally, 74% of capacity had returned. Singapore was back at 84% of pre-Covid level and climbing rapidly.
“With the reopening of China just weeks ago, we saw a 32% recovery in capacity pretty immediately and it’s growing at a good rate,” said Hogg, who’s based in Shanghai. “We’d like to see more US airlines return to Australia,” he added, “as well as from North Asia.”
One market that has made the strongest recovery is India and he said there was now 272% more direct capacity between India and Australia. “India’s an interesting market, it is the number one market in terms of recovery.”
There’s most anticipation about China, which was Australia’s “largest and most valuable market and that will not change,” said Hogg. “This is grow back slowly, led by VFR and student traffic. Pre-pandemic, 44% of Chinese travellers were repeat visitors – and we expect that percentage to stay high.”
He said that in terms of incentive events, what customers were looking for have changed. “People want deeper connections to the places they travel to – to our indigenous culture – and they want unique experiences, not just convention centres but in nature and the outdoors. We also see wellness as a big theme going forward.”