Visitor Economy 2031: Brisbane's tourism outlook

11 April 2019

There's a new tourism hub growing in Australia - and no, it's not Sydney or Melbourne ... it's Brisbane. The city currently has a thriving $8.8 billion tourism economy which is only set to grow. Its promise was outlined at the Visit Economy 2031 event, hosted by Brisbane Marketing. I attended along with more than 60 leading industry operators, business partners and tourism futurists.

The keynote address: Challenges and opportunities for Brisbane Tourism

Greg Klassen, a travel industry strategist with over 25 years' experience in the sector, gave the keynote address. Here, he outlined some of the major challenges and opportunities for the Brisbane region. These include:

  • Lower cost transport
  • Deregulation
  • Growth of the world's middle class
  • Commoditisaton of travel
  • Technology
  • China
  • Unprecedented investments in tourism.

All this has helped to develop Brisbane's Vision 2031 strategy, which aims to expand the city's tourism outlook to the whole visitor economy - including visitation from students, business events and major occasions. The visitor economy currently contributes $8.5 billion to GDP, and this is only set to grow with over $12 billion worth of new visit economy projects either planned or underway.

These include Howard Smith Wharves, new hotels, a second airport runway, the Brisbane Metro and Cross River Rail.

Brisbane: A top 100 most-visited city

This has led to Brisbane Tourism setting some high targets - it hopes to secure an additional $6.5 billion per annum in visitor expenditure above forecast growth by 2031. This will enable it to become a top 100 most-visited global city and a top 15 destination for international students, as well as a leading business destination. Brisbane hopes to achieve this by diversifying the products and activities available to visitors and through sourcing capital investment in new products and experiences. This will help to drive an increase in visit length and spend.

In particular, Klassen showed the significant opportunity that students represent for Brisbane. There are now 95,000 students who call Brisbane home, many of whom are from overseas. Tapping into their visitor potential (and into millennial travel patterns more generally) can bring great benefits for the city. A ‘millennially aligned’ traveller, as Klassen put it, looks for experience, novelty, nature, culture and history as the main focuses of tourism - all things that Brisbane has to offer.

Indeed so great is the city's potential that Klassen compared it to Portland and Calgary, which have both successfully executed a ‘localism’ strategy to activate their brand.

Brisbane has huge potential – what are you most excited about or think still needs some work?