AOT & ETA ATE Dinners a Huge Success
18th of June, 2011
Once again AOT and ETA have put on the premier events at ATE 2009.
On Saturday night, ETA General Manager Chris Teh and AOT Group CEO Andrew Burnes hosted over 150 clients and suppliers from the Eastern Hemisphere module of ATE at a gala Chinese Banquet at Crown Promenade. Expecially moving was the tribute from Chris Teh to Kelvin Lee, former General Manager of ETA who passes away just a couple of weeks ago.
Thanks to the support from all the team at Crown and especially Crown Promenade GM Greg "Roger" Moore.
On Wendesday night AOT hosted over 360 clients, suppliers, partners and AOT staff at Melbourne Town Hall. With entertainment from Rodney Marks this was a great night and congratulations to all our Award Winners and thanks to our sponsors, Accor, APT, Hertz, Voyages and Hamilton Island.
Andrew Burnes, AOT Group CEO, made a speech which many people have asked for a copy of so a transcript of it is set out below:
"Good evening and welcome.
Tonight is our way of saying thank you to all of our clients and our supplier partners who work so closely every day with AOT around Australia and around the world.
I would especially like to welcome the Chair of the Tourism NT, Grant Hunt, the Chair of Tourism Queensland, Don Morris and the heads of Tourism Tasmania, Felicia Mariani, Tourism Victoria, Greg Hywood and Tourism Queensland, Anthony Hayes.
From Tourism Australia welcome to the Managing Director, Geoff Buckley and my TA Board Colleagues Peter O’Brien, Peter Burnett and Grant Hunt.
From ATEC we welcome also to Chairman John King and CEO Matt Hingerty.
And thank you to our sponsors tonight, Simon McGrath from Accor, Jacqueline Lehmann-Vogel from Hertz, Glenn Bourke from Hamilton Island, Geoff McGeary from APT and Anna Guillan from Voyages. A very big welcome and thank you.
You have supported AOT and this dinner over many years and it’s not just a thank you for tonight but for your continued support over many, many years.
I also want to thank De Bortoli wines for their support of tonight's function and of Victorian tourism generally.
To our clients, thank you for your business, your support and your friendship. We are committed to providing you with the best possible service to make your job of converting demand for Australia into cash through the tills or of our supplier partners right around the country and collectively I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.
AOT will this year finish with Gross Sales of $265 million for the year of which over $100 million comes from our inbound customers around the world.
Despite the ravages of oil prices, the global financial crisis, swine flu and other challenges, we continue to promote Australia and New Zealand around the world to the best of our ability.
In 2010, we will expand our operations to include the South Pacific, namely Fiji, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.
To the AOT Team not only here tonight but around Australia, New Zealand and Asia, a very big thank you. We have a superb team of professionals right across our business and they are the best in the business. Particularly to our Board, Cinzia Burnes, Barney Johnstone, Gary Paterson, Des Fielding and Mark Campbell, to our Executive Management Team including Leanne Chard, Vicki Malcher and their fabulous Contracting Team, to our FIT and Group Departments, who manage the booking process so well, to our Admin & Finance team, our IT and Systems teams and to all our staff around the country and the world thank you for making AOT what it is today.
Finally can I especially welcome all of our supplier partners from around Australia. The dedication you put in to creating and delivering the extraordinary experiences that our international visitors bring is the quintessential foundation on which our industry is built and without it we wouldn’t have an industry.
In 2 weeks time I will step down as Deputy Chairman of Tourism Australia, a position I have held for 5 years.
It’s been a privilege to serve the industry on the TA Board since 2004 and to try and ensure that TA delivers the best outcomes for all of industry from its activities in Australia and around the world.
For reasons I don’t quite understand we seem to have developed a very strong penchant for negativity over the last few years. It seems like a never ending chorus of “it’s not good enough”, “the product sucks”, “no-one wants to come here anymore”, “it’s too expensive”, “the yield is too low”, “no-one makes any money”, “you’re not sending me enough bookings”, “TA hasn’t got a clue”.
Frankly it’s just bullshit and I am sick of it. We have a great country, we have sensational products, we have over 5.5 million international arrivals a year, the food is fantastic, the wine is unbelievable, the water is clean and the beaches are superb.
We are what we are and although we don’t have a coastline full of ritzy resorts stretching from Coffs Harbour to Cooktown what we do have is a huge array of great CBD hotels and apartments, great boutique resorts and lodges, in fact, a huge array of really well run places to stay complimented by sensational restaurants and a huge array of touring product that allows us as an ITO and our wholesale partners to craft wonderful individual and group experiences from Hobart to Darwin, from Broome to Bendigo.
Franklin Roosevelt said:
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
This room is full of people and businesses that have a go. Not just some tempered half arsed crack but a red hot go at delivering sensational experiences at reasonable prices to visitors from right around the world.
Recently I was at Home Valley Station fishing on the Pentecost River with a local Aboriginal guide, who told me his wife was in Darwin expecting their first child. They had been living in Wyndham in a caravan that was costing $200 a week, which left him with $32 a week for everything else from his weekly CDEP payment. $32.00! To survive he’d had to go hunting and fishing to feed his pregnant wife and himself.
He’d got a job in tourism only 4 weeks prior and was earning around $800 a week, which for him was simply extraordinary. He could support his family, support himself, give his child a future and he was so incredibly proud to be sharing his knowledge of his culture and his region with visitors from around the world.
I have dozens of these great stories and in this room tonight there are no doubt thousands more. Tourism adds enormously to our national fabric, it provides jobs right around the country, it provides infrastructure for local communities to enjoy year round, it keeps people in regional towns, it provides employment to unskilled new Australians and it provides life enriching experiences to over 5 million visitors to our shores every year.
And I’m not apologising to anyone for that.
So I say let’s not carp on about what we’re not, what we don’t have, what we can’t afford. Let’s celebrate the great things we do have, the great industry we work in and the efforts we all go to show our visitors the best that Australia has to offer.