GIPPSLAND has achieved astounding success at the 2021 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, with both of our region’s finalists – Destination Gippsland and Pennicott Wilderness Journeys – being awarded gold in their categories.
Destination Gippsland, the regional tourism board for Gippsland, won gold in the Tourism Marketing & Campaigns category of the ATIC 2021 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre on Friday 18 March 2022 for their outstanding marketing and industry development work over the very challenging period from July 2019 – June 2021.
Destination Gippsland has worked closely with the region’s six councils and the state tourism body, Visit Victoria, to launch a new brand and new website for the region, while responding to the marketing and industry development needs resulting from the black summer bushfires and Covid restrictions.
Much of Gippsland’s east was experiencing severe drought in 2019, with Destination Gippsland already focusing on drought recovery in the latter half of the year. The drought created conditions that lead to the devastating bushfires in East Gippsland over the summer of 2019/20. Alongside the rest of Victoria, Gippsland suffered the unimaginable losses to the visitor economy due to Covid-19, during periods when travel was not permitted from March 2020.
All Kinds of Wonder (AKOW) is the region’s tourism brand, launched in Oct 2019. The brand puts the region’s strengths – and quirky points of difference – centre stage. It compels consumers to think about Gippsland in exciting new ways. For Gippsland, impacted by bushfire, drought and Covid over the past two years, the brand is also a path toward recovery. There were 3 innovative campaigns undertaken across 2019/20 and 2020/21:
1. AKOW brand campaign (Oct 2019 – Jun 2021): A brand campaign to change consumer perceptions and build brand awareness of the region.
2. Bushfire recovery marketing (Jan – July 2020): A largely tactical campaign for East Gippsland in the immediate aftermath of the bushfires.
3. Covid response and recovery (Apr 2020 – Jun 2021): A tactical and brand campaign called Little Wonders, with agile timing around Covid lockdowns to reconnect with the consumer.
The All Kinds of Wonder brand changed consumer perceptions about the region: Almost 70%of consumers felt more positively toward Gippsland and 63% said they were more likely to consider travelling to Gippsland after seeing the campaign. Perceptions of the diversity of things to do improved compared to the previous Gippsland brand.
In turn, the campaign grew Gippsland market share and visitor yield. Visitation market share grew by 18% (outperforming the regional Victoria average), yield per visitor increased by 10.4% and added to length of stay by 17%, which were major aims of the new brand and targeted campaigns.
Even more remarkable, these accomplishments were achieved in the aftermath of one of the greatest bushfire disasters in Australia’s history, and throughout a worldwide pandemic, punctuated by complete shutdowns of the tourism industry.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys – Wilsons Promontory Cruises won gold in both the New Tourism Business category and Major Tour & Transport Operators categories for their world-class eco boat cruises. The 2.5 hour cruise, which launched in September 2019, departs from Norman Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park in custom-built amphibious boats. The cruise takes in the unique granite coastline and abundant wildlife of The Prom, travelling out to reveal the iconic granite monolith of Skull Rock.
Businesses who won gold in categories 1 through to 25 in their state tourism awards qualify as finalists in the ATIC 2021 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, therefore being named as a finalist in these very competitive awards is a fantastic achievement in itself.
Destination Gippsland Chair Nick Murray said: “We are so pleased that the work of Destination Gippsland has been recognised at a national level. To be awarded the best marketing campaign for any city, region or business in Australia is a great honour and testament to the skills and effectiveness of our team led by CEO Terry Robinson and General Manager Marketing Alison Conroy, our local government and state partners, and the Gippsland tourism industry.”
“I am also so happy to see Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Wilsons Prom Cruise win gold in the New Tourism Business category. Rob and the team worked for years to launch this very special product in Wilsons Prom and we will continue to support them to attract visitors to the region.”The qualifying period for this year’s awards was extended to two years, rather than the usual one year, in recognition of the challenges encountered by the tourism and hospitality industries as a result of Covid restrictions.