Qantas and the NSW Government have announced a new $30 million partnership to promote Sydney and regional NSW to the world, marking the largest tourism and major events marketing partnership in the state’s history.
The deal will see the NSW government and Qantas each invest $15 million over the three years. The campaign will include international advertising and marketing, major event marketing and joint public relations activities aimed at attracting more visitors from the US, UK, continental Europe, China, South-East Asia, Japan and New Zealand. The partnership, in which there will be a strong focus on digital platforms including online and social media, will also have a strong domestic component to encourage more Australians to visit NSW and the regions for business and leisure travel.
The arrangement, of course, comes after Qantas CEO Alan Joyce pulled the plug on sponsorship of Tourism Australia as paranoia swept the Qantas executive floors about a potential takeover by former CEO Geoff Dixon, who is also chairman of Tourism Australia.
This time, however, Joyce said the time was right to elevate the partnership between Qantas and Destination NSW to a higher level.
“Sydney is the gateway to Australia with more than 50 per cent of all international visitors to Australia arriving at Sydney Airport so it’s fitting this is the largest partnership we have ever entered into with a State Government.”
While the deal with NSW tourism authorities represents a welcome injection of funds and profile for the state, regardless of the political and corporate rhetoric, the deal remains a far cry from the long-standing arrangement between Tourism Australia and Qantas.
As much as anything this second-best deal is a signal to Virgin boss John Borghetti that he’s not going to have it all his own way.
Within days of Joyce throwing the baby out with the bath water over the Dixon fiasco, Borghetti and shareholder Etihad had taken over the prize spot Qantas had tempestuously vacated, and although not as big a financial deal as had historically been the case with Qantas, the triumvirate between Virgin, Etihad and Tourism Australia holds just as strong strategic value.
In this NSW deal, Joyce has recovered some lost ground – ground he voluntarily ceded to his opposition – in the tourism sector. In the end Qantas’s loss became a gain for Virgin and NSW. While the national and state economies don’t really mind where the spending comes from, within the major airline groupings, the tourism strategy says a lot about the airlines’ positioning.