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18 Mar 2014

Tourism Victoria’s new director of marketing, Felicia Mariani, delivered some very valuable tips to business people gathered at the February Yarra River business luncheon.

Felicia spoke about the importance of the rapidly increasing eastern tourism markets, especially China and India, but she also made a strong point that most of our visitation is still undertaken by Australians.

However, she said that research shows in recent years Australians only equate a major “holiday” with jumping on a plane and travelling overseas. Visits to places within Australia are now more likely to be considered by Australians as “experiences”, and particularly to indulge hobbies or to undertake “wish-list” things.

She mentioned the rise of gourmet cooking classes, playing on elite golf courses and learning to sail as being examples of the type of experiences. These are the types of things that Australians will remember from their vacations, rather than just the places that they visited. Hence, she said, the concentration of tourism marketers on pure destination marketing is missing the mark.

Her message was clear that we in Victoria, in Melbourne, and in this precinct, need to concentrate on developing these type of experiences, which, in our case, are best delivered through quality events.

The type of experience provided to visitors on February 22 and 23 for White Night, or on March 1 and 2 for the Food and Wine Festival should be remembered by people for a long time.

Prior to the luncheon, the association took Ms Mariani on a guided water tour of the western end of the precinct, to appreciate the city skyline from the river, and to see the recent developments along South Wharf Promenade, Yarra’s Edge, WTC Wharf and to hear about the soon-to-be-commenced North Wharf development, between Flinders Wharf and the Grimes Bridge.

She was surprised to hear how boaties can casually berth overnight at Marina YE for as little as $50. This has to be the cheapest accommodation in Melbourne and probably boasts the most spectacular night-time view of the city.

Beatlemania has hit our precinct and lasts until the end of June at Arts Centre Melbourne, which is hosting the 50th anniversary exhibition of the Fab Fours’ visit to the city.

The stunning cabaret Empire returns to Crown rooftop in March, which comprises 90 minutes of breath-stopping performance.

A reminder also that Tuesday nights’ Southgate free cinema features a different film each week. It’s quite a communal feel settling into the deckchair with a bag of chocolates, then perhaps coffee and cake afterwards for supper at Bluetrain, or a wine at PJ O’Brien’s.

The business association is continually thinking-up new ideas and concepts to give people a reason to visit the precinct. Executive committee member John Forman and his team at Red Rock Leisure are to be congratulated on initiating Melbourne’s first major Chinese New Year festival held outside of Little Bourke St.

John’s idea for 2015 is to extend the activity seen in Docklands this February into the lower reaches of the Yarra. We hope to see our bridges lit-up with lanterns and possibly some floating features as well.

Another of our committee members is thinking-through the logistics of a snow and ice festival during winter. The ideas never stop flowing!

Further to the coverage in last month’s paper about our quest to improve the station pedestrian underpass, any supportive letters from residents and businesses to Transport Minister Terry Mulder would greatly assist our case.

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