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“With Singaporeans, there’s an 86 per cent of re-visitation [rate] to Australia, but they’re looking for something new. The travel agents are saying Canberra is the something new and it absolutely fits the demographic of nature-based tourism, the adventure activity-based tourism, together with good hotel product and high-quality restaurants and cafes.”
“We didn’t make that our product deliberately, but we couldn’t have designed it better to fit their market.”
Members of the delegation, lead by Treasurer Andrew Barr, said direct international flights were essential to growing business and tourism revenue in the ACT.
Mr Barr met with airline executives and has pledged to continue a strong Canberra presence in Singapore.
Last month’s ACT budget included a marketing package worth $600,000 to support international and domestic tourism campaigns promoting the capital.
Government-commissioned research showed daily services from the two counties could generate $139 million in annual benefits for Canberra and as many as 1085 jobs.
Mr Byron said key decision makers in government and business would be influenced by repeat visits from their ACT counterparts.
“We are starting from a zero knowledge base and we are substantially ramping that up across the board. Our engagement with the airlines has moved to now meeting the real decision makers and having discussions about how to make the route work,” he said.
The first-mover advantage would be long lasting, Mr Byron said.
“I think the interesting thing is the engagement with the Australian government for Singapore,” he said.
“The first carrier will get a forever relationship with the federal government, not just with the city of Canberra. With Singapore we have many strategic ties, including a significant military dependence and engagement with each other and there is a huge amount of business between Australia and Singapore.”
The government has argued there is sufficient demand for about 230 passengers per day, including 30 business class seats.
Tourism Australia’s most recent International Visitor Survey showed that 181,686 overseas residents arrived in the ACT in 2013, including a more than 37 per cent increase in visitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Hong Kong on the previous year.
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