Summit for tourism industry

Yarra Ranges Tourism team; Simon O’Callaghan (left), Euan McDonald-Madden (right). Picture: DONGYUN KWON

By Dongyun Kwon

Yarra Ranges Tourism (YRT) hosted the 9th Annual Tourism Summit (ATR) successfully on Wednesday 5 June at the Racv Healesville Country Club And Golf Course.

This year’s theme was Collaborative Futures covering emerging trends and providing insights for marketing success.

YRT chief executive officer Simon O’Callaghan said the ATR is to bring all tourism operators together to succeed in the industry.

“We’ve just completed the 10-year destination management plan which sets the agenda for the future issues and opportunities for the industry over that time,” he said.

“To achieve all of those goals, we’re really gonna need some strong collaboration from industry, government and even the community to see the opportunities for employment in the local region.

“It’s also important for the industry to come together when times aren’t as prosperous as they are now with the economic climate and it’s really important for the industry to go through and share their experiences of how their businesses are going with one another.”

About 180 industry representatives attended the 2024 ATR.

The event started with the Welcome to Country performance by Wurundjeri Elder Murrundindi.

Mr O’Callaghan and YRT marketing and communications head Euan McDonald-Madden led the first session talking about YRT’s collaborative marketing strategy followed by presentations from a number of guest speakers including Shae Keenan from Visit Victoria, Kristy Malapa from Tourism Australia, Phillip Johnson from Phillip Johnson Landscapes and tourism, sport and major events minister Steve Dimopoulos.

There were two interactive panel sessions with local and out of region business representatives sharing their marketing ideas and insights about the future marketing of the region between guest speakers’ presentations.

The first panel session discussed the topic ‘Are tour operators the lifeblood of visitor dispersal?’ with Craig Cooney from The Yarra Valley Touring Company, Fiona Sweetman from Victoria Tourism Industry Council and Rick Creamer from Rick’s Wine Tours.

The other panel session was delivered by Stephen Peppard from Healesville Sanctuary, Mike Appleton from Cherry Hill Blossom Festival, Paul Tesselaar from Tesselaar KaBloom and Peter Abbott from Puffing Billy Train of Lights discussing the topic ‘Attracting off peak and overnight stays through Events’.

Tokar Estate Cellar Door manager Joanne Tate attended the event and said she attends the ATR every year.

“I’ve been in the tourism industry for over 30 years and this is crucial for businesses to come and see what YRT is seeing that is happening for both domestic and international markets,” Ms Tate said.

“It’s a great networking opportunity too for people to be able to talk to other businesses and to be able to help each other.”