Australian tour companies have bounced back well from the GFC and have been well represented at yesterday’s Super Bowl in the US, according to an industry representative.
The Super Bowl, one of the largest sporting events in the world, saw Green Bay beat Pittsburgh in front of a huge global TV audience.
The match was viewed in person by several clients of Australian package tour companies, which are taking advantage of the relatively strong economy and Australian dollar to take customers overseas.
Peter Baily, GM of the Council of Australian Tour Operators, says that despite the economic effects of the global financial crisis, the outbound travel industry is enjoying strong growth.
“Compared with Europe and the US, the Australian economy has held up really well, allowing us to continue to travel,” he says.
A strong Australian dollar hurts the in-bound tourism industry, but for companies in the business of sending people overseas, the effects are quite the opposite.
“The majority of our bills and fees are paid in foreign currencies, so we save a lot of money when the dollar is up,” says Baily.
Bailly says there are opportunities for new start-ups in the sector. “It’s purely product driven,” he says. “Australians are always looking for something different. If you do something new and exciting, you’ll be fine.”
In 2009, former AFL footballers Glenn Archer and Leigh Colbert founded Ultimate Sporting Tours, and are currently hosting a small group of Australians in Texas to experience the Super Bowl.
Haylie Kidman, events manager for Ultimate Sporting Tours, says: “There aren’t a lot of people who are willing to spend $15,000 to $20,000 to see an overseas sporting event, so our demographic is quite specific.”
“It isn’t about large numbers, but more a quality, exclusive experience which isn’t always possible in big groups.”
Ultimate Sporting Tours is still in its infancy, with the current Super Bowl adventure only being the third tour they’ve hosted, after taking guests to the Monaco Grand Prix and the Ashes Tour of England.
“The guests enjoy the smaller numbers and exclusivity,” says Kidman. “Our demographic is quite a small niche, but we’re finding that our guests are very loyal.”