Last Thursday 450 industry professionals gathered at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) for Tourism Australia’s annual Destination Australia conference.

The event focussed on Australian tourism in a post-Covid world, and featured a number of speakers including minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan, Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison, journalist Karla Grant and Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully.

Television personality Karl Stefanovic was the emcee for the event.

In her opening address at the conference, Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said the 2021 event had a record number of attendees.

“It shows how important it is for this relationships-based industry to connect,” Ms Harrison said.

“It has never been more important for us to work together and collaborate so that we make it through the next year – and so that we are ready to welcome back international visitors back for both business events and leisure when they return.

“And even though, at times over the last year, it has been hard to see when that will happen – as we move into 2021 and our vaccination program is rolling out, we know we will open, and we are confident that, in time, international business will return in pre-Covid numbers and beyond.”

Tourism Australia executive general manager events, Penny Lion said, “Business events, like Destination Australia, are a critical part of our visitor economy, directly contributing $35.7 billion in the 2019 financial year and provided employment to 229,000 people across the country.

“But beyond the economic benefit, business events provide the opportunity to connect, collaborate and contribute to a business’s bottom line. And after a year of hybrid work models, it’s never been more important for businesses to do so.”

CEO of Destination NSW Steve Cox commended Tourism Australia for putting together a successful event and said it demonstrated the need for people to meet in person.

“It is just so good to meet and connect with the incredible people in our industry,” he said.

“To meet the minister Dan Tehan MP in person, to meet members of Destination NSW that I had not met before – the benefits of travel and in-person events is so clear when you return.

“Yes, it is time to get physical again – in a Covid-safe way of course.”

In addition to its 450 in person attendees, 300 industry professionals attended Destination Australia online.