By the time you are reading this column, Canberra will have just finished its second annual CBR 31 Days, a program of events designed to encourage visitors and locals to explore our city and take part in some of the many activities on offer.
March in Canberra presents a catalogue of different experiences for locals and visitors to enjoy. There is a new activity on every day of the month.
One of the most popular, is the magnificent displays of Enlighten, where a number of Canberra’s most iconic buildings are lit up after dark, and the associated Night Noodle Markets.
The world-renowned Balloon Spectacular brought colour to the morning skies over Canberra, there was the Canberra Comedy Festival, markets, horse racing, bike rides, and art and craft for all tastes.
This drawcard brings people to the ACT during the month and also encourages residents to get out and about – and of course this increase in participation has a low on impact to our economy.
The National Gallery of Australia’s ‘Versailles: Treasures from the Palace’ continued to run throughout March, while the National Museum held the ‘David Attenborough’s Virtual Reality Experiences’ exhibition and the hugely successful a History of the World in 100 Objects.
What CBR 31 Days shows is the power of a region working together to provide an outstanding visitor experience.
Businesses throughout the ACT are doing their bit to entice visitors and ensure they enjoy their stay. From hotels offering great accommodation of all classes and cross-promoting local businesses, such as restaurants, shops and shows; to improved access to the ACT by road and air.
A new report by Tourism Research Australia shows that in 2015-2016, the ACT attracted 2.4 million domestic travellers, nearly 20 per cent more than the previous year. These visitors spent $1.3 billion, an increase of 11 per cent. This was some of the strongest jurisdictional growth in the country.
The growth does not look like it will slow down anytime soon. Canberra Airport has secured a number of new airlines and services that can bring people to our region and introduce visitors to Canberra to a broader offering in the surrounding area.
While it only kicked off late last year, the new Singapore direct service to Canberra and Wellington has been such an outstanding success that Canberra Airport is hoping to extend the service from four to five days a week.
A report by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows load rates (the number of passengers per flight) average 83% for the Canberra-Singapore flight.
Qatar Airways has committed to a new Doha to Canberra service and internally we are a more connected city thanks to FlyPelican’s new daily flights between Canberra and Dubbo and Tigerair Australia now flying between Melbourne and Canberra.
Launched in February, the new website canberra.com.au is doing its bit to attract visitors, workers and new residents to the ACT. This fabulous resource also helps business and community members contribute to the promotion of our region. If you haven’t visited canberra.com.au yet, take some time to explore it.
All of these accomplishments are contributing positively to our economy. Economic activity in the ACT is growing at one of the fastest rates of any jurisdiction in Australia, according to the State Final Demand figures.
The Territory’s State Final Demand increased by 1.6% in the December quarter of 2016, which was the third highest rise in the country. This contributed to a yearly increase in State Final Demand of 7.3% – more than three times higher than the national GDP increase of 2.4%.
However, businesses have warned through the Deloitte SME survey that there are a number of issues that can put expansion at risk, in particular skills shortages and red tape.
Canberra Business Chamber is working on behalf of ACT business to address these issues and advocating to ensure the upcoming Federal and ACT Budgets contain measures to enhance growth, not stymie it.
In our 2017-18 Budget Submission to the ACT Government, we have called for a range of initiatives that will support local businesses, continue to diversify our economy, and enhance the visitor experience.
These include funding of a program to help start-ups successfully transition to the micro-business stage, support for exporters, improved transport networks within the Canberra region, and increased funding for the Special Event Fund, Visit Canberra and the Canberra Convention Bureau.
To see the Chamber’s full ACT Budget Submission, please visit: www.canberrabusiness.com. The submission can be found under the Advocacy tab.