By Doug Gollan
Australia’s Gold Coast is referred to as Surfer’s Paradise but if Tourism Australia has its way, the entire country may soon be referred to as Buyer’s Paradise.
During a conversation with Managing Director Andrew McEvoy during the World Traveler & Tourism Council Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, the tourism boss revealed, “Apart from doing the marketing and distribution for Australia we have a small investment division and there is a lot of interest in buying and building new hotels.”
China is a key market for investment and this week’s announcement the two countries have agreed to allow each other’s currencies to be directly converted will increase the flow. Last year Australia rolled out a Significant Investor Program that provides a residency visa to foreigners who invest AUD$5 million. According to The Wall Street Journal the Aussie government also cut the residency requirement from two years to 160 days over four years making it easier for the country to attract UHNWs as a part time base.
McEvoy noted that while the fight for investment is global, many markets in China are, in his opinion, already saturated and, compared to current hot markets in South America and Turkey, as examples, Australia fits into a portfolio as “safe, sure and steady.”
There is a need, he said for 26,000 additional beds in Australia’s capital cities and, “We have the highest occupancies in our capital cities of all the OECD countries” with strong REVPar (Revenue per available room).
To grease the wheels for investment, Tourism Australia has put together a list of over 80 investment opportunities of which many “already have development approval but don’t have the capital.”
There are existing hotels for sale, McEvoy noted, citing the Four Seasons Sydney, adding, “to buy, fix up and make money is a huge option.”
There are both state and national incentives, including, in some places, free land. Major waterfront and riverfront projects are planned in Perth, a city McEvoy says is currently running 95 percent occupancy driven by a strong natural resources economy. In Sydney, James Packer has already announced plans for a six-star hotel in Barangaroo, an AUD $6 billion waterfront project that is expected to generate over AUD$1.5 billion for the New South Wales economy on an annual basis.
Speaking about tourism overall, McEvoy says Australia is very interested in welcoming elite travelers and your private jets. The Ultra High Net Worth traveler also supports commercial flights, buying premium class tickets, and McEvoy said the organization is working to promote “passion points” such as golf and luxury lodges and soon diving and dining. “We want to present Australia in a sophisticated way, take it up a few notches, and want to find sectors where we can do better than other countries,” McEvoy said. Offering a view on kangaroos to investment opportunities, it certainly seems Australia is well positioned to gain a larger share of the private jet traveler market.