Tourism Australia has promised to offer full support to travel agents during its campaign targeting the 50+ market. Speaking to Travel Daily earlier this week, Rodney Harrex, general manager UK and Ireland at Tourism Australia explained that its research had led the tourist board to see an instant connection between travel agents and this group of travellers due to their buying habits. “We have identified a key target as the 50+ market as they have more money to dispose to long-haul travel, 26% of the long-haul market is in this range and 1.6 million of them live in London or the south and up to the Midlands,” he said. “They’re still travelling so we need to put Australia into their minds but from our research of the market we know that they like to plan, book and talk through travel agents so we need to make sure we know the most about that market.” Spurred by a successful Corroboree in Darwin recently, which 140 UK travel agents attended, the tourist board is taking to the road to ensure travel agents are confident in selling to the 50-69 group. “Through our Aussie specialist programme we want to make sure we have experts in the regions where the top regions where over 50s live,” said Harrex. “We have a specialist on the team who is going on the road and we are really pushing that to build confidence. We also have our trade helpline which can support agents from an enquiry through to booking.” His passion in driving tourism down under was summarised into a ‘hand and glove’ metaphor signifying its work with both the trade and consumers. “We talk to consumers a lot and we put lots of effort and energy into inspiring people to travel to Australia. We will continue to do that and we are committed to the UK market so we want travel agents to know we offer support so they are more confident. I see it like a ‘hand in glove’, we look to inspire and then send them [the consumer] to a travel agent when they know what they need,” Harrex gushed. Aside from the grey market the 18-25 group remains a key incoming group for Australia and despite the economic worries this group continues to travel long-haul. “We have not seen a decline in that market at all and all our partners have said there has been a good level of interest, with some seeing more interest,” confirmed Harrex. “I think [younger generations] have grown to know travel and they will continue to.” Meanwhile the trade support has stemmed from a generally optimistic view from Harrex about the British market, which he described as almost a land of opportunity. This has been cemented by the tourism board’s confirmed AUS$6.8 million budget for the UK in the next 12 months following positive results in its financial year (June – July). Up until 30 April arrivals to Australia from the UK had increased 3% and tracking well for the rest of the year and 650,000 Brits visited the country in 2010. It is these figures that has highlighted the UK as one of Australia’s top contributors towards its 2020 goal, which aims to increase tourism spend from the UK to AUS$6.6bn in nine years (vs. $3.184bn in 2010). “Like everyone else we want to make a difference in a challenging market. We have been through the peaks and troughs and now everyone is looking at where the opportunities are. Everyone is hungrier for opportunity,” said Harrex.