Lonely Planet’s announcement of Canberra being named as the third best city in the world to visit in 2018 caused the usual Canberra-bashing across social media, but for many of us who live here, such an accolade is not surprising.
This recognition is a result of a decade of transformative work. Canberra has fundamentally changed from the small, insular country town that it was in the 1960s and 70s, and there is no way that the Canberra of that era would have received this sort of international recognition.
Canberra has changed for the better. We are the happiest, healthiest, longest-living, best educated and wealthiest Australians.
This city is the best place in the world to live, and it has been recognised now as one of the best places in the world to visit.
This recognition will also be a great launching pad for the next phase of Canberra’s tourism development. The tourism industry is heading towards a $2.5 billion annual contribution to the territory’s economy, employing more than 16,000 Canberrans.
To put that in perspective, the Commonwealth public service is about 60,000 Canberrans and the ACT Government employs around 20,000 Canberrans.
The Lonely Planet accolade means our city is getting the recognition that it deserves. It has been incredibly encouraging in the immediate aftermath of the announcement – and in the weeks since – to see the very positive reaction across the nation and internationally to this recognition.
Yes, there are cynics and critics. Some of them reside in this city and some even purport to represent this city while talking this city down. That is very disappointing.
But we will be relentlessly positive about this city, its transformation, its tourism sector and the incredibly hard work that has been rewarded in our tourism and hospitality industry.
As we welcome more international visitors to our city through new direct flights, we have a significant program of world-class events lined up for 2018.
From the world-exclusive Cartier exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia to Canberra’s first cricket test match at Manuka Oval and with many events to celebrate our region’s fantastic coffee, food, and wine, 2018 will be a huge year for Canberra.
We are repositioning Canberra nationally and internationally, implementing progressive policies that are being recognised around the country and around the world. The recognition by Lonely Planet will be a fantastic boost to Canberra’s tourism industry.
I encourage everyone, even the miserable cynics, to get behind our city. Canberra is a great place to be.
Original Article published by Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister on the RiotACT.