The Hon John Eren MP - travel report - UAE, UK & USA - 23 September - 5 October 2017

Minister The Hon John Eren MP
Portfolio Minister for Tourism and Major Events
Minister for Sport
Minister for Veterans
Countries visited 3
Date of travel 23 September – 5 October 2017
No. of official travel days
(including day of departure and day of return)
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency) Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Air fares (including taxes and fees) $34,790*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees) $10,746*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $12,539*
Travel cost for minister and staff $58,075*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The main purpose of my trip was to build relationships with key international stakeholders relevant to my tourism and events and sports portfolios. I met with major airline partners, government partners, marketing and event attraction partners, and toured major event infrastructure. I also took the opportunity to explore new investment and event opportunities.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

My travel to the UAE, UK and USA was a valuable opportunity for me to promote Victoria as a desirable tourist and visitor destination, strengthen relationships with key airline partners, and secure exclusive major events for Victoria. The main outcomes of my visit are outlined below.

Building Victoria's international reputation as a desired tourism and visitor destination 

The Victorian Government continues to support efforts to promote Victoria as a desirable tourist destination. The Victorian Visitor Economy Strategy identifies a range of actions to achieve this.

During this travel, I took the opportunity to promote Victoria as a desirable tourism destination. I participated in a live radio interview with Dubai Eye's Business Breakfast program, a premier business radio show in the UAE. This interview was an opportunity to reach a significant audience, including the expat community, and I used it to highlight Victoria's world-class tourism assets.

In New York, I met with the Brandman Agency, Visit Victoria's public relations agency, to discuss the outcomes of Victoria's recent public relations activities across the USA. I also met with Myriad Marketing, which represents the Melbourne Convention Bureau across North America, about the business conferencing space and how we can best market Melbourne as a premium destination.

I visited Virtuoso, which is an invitation only organisation comprising more than 9,000 elite travel advisors, with a network that reaches 26 countries and 1,700 of the world's best travel providers and premier destinations. Victoria's Crown Towers, Park Hyatt and Lyall Hotel are included in this network. At Virtuoso, I met with the Global Product Partnerships Senior Vice President to discuss the global visitor economy and trends, and seek their views on how Victoria can improve its international visitor offering. I encouraged Virtuoso to consider Victoria as the host for the 2019 Virtuoso Symposium.

Strong relationships with airline partners are vital to Victoria's economy

In my meetings with Emirates Airlines (Dubai), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) and Qantas Airways (Los Angeles), I met with senior representatives to discuss their new aircrafts, increased passenger capacity, potential new flights to and from Melbourne, and the importance of Victoria's partnership with these airlines.

Emirates Airlines is the third largest carrier for inbound visitors to Victoria, and a key carrier for the UK and other European passengers. I took the opportunity in my meeting with Emirates Airlines to advance the proposal for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Emirates Airlines and Visit Victoria. We also spoke about the positive-growth in passenger numbers on the Melbourne route, and further consideration of increased services, and the arrival of their new A380 aircraft.

In August 2015, Etihad Airways added a second daily service to Melbourne, increasing capacity on the route by 119,000 seats per annum. These services enable connectivity to over 50 markets worldwide. During my meeting with Etihad Airways, I discussed the benefits of an enhanced co-operative marketing agreement with Visit Victoria to promote Etihad Airways services to and from Victoria.

In Los Angeles, I met with Qantas Airways to reiterate the importance of the relationship the Victorian Government has with Qantas, as the largest provider of international seats to Victoria. I spoke specifically about the opportunity for additional direct services to Melbourne Airport once Qantas takes delivery of its new 787 fleet. Qantas has agreed to continue working with the Victorian Government and Visit Victoria on additional services from the USA.

Exclusive major events boost Victoria's international reputation and economy

The Victorian Government is committed to the attraction, staging and retention of major events to Victoria, including major events in regional Victoria.

I met with Sonia Friedman Productions to advance the plans to present Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Melbourne. I also toured the Palace Theatre London, which currently stages this production, to view first-hand the type of infrastructure needed to support such a production. On 24 October 2017, the Victorian Government was pleased to announce that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be coming to Melbourne.

In December 2019, Melbourne will host the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The Club has hosted The Presidents Cup twice before, in 1998 and 2011, and Victoria is the first location outside the USA to stage the event for a third time. I had the opportunity to represent Victoria at the 2017 President's Cup in New Jersey, USA. I hosted key stakeholders at a function on the final day of the event and participated in promotional activities for the 2019 tournament. I also participated in further discussions focused on attracting additional Tier 1 golf tournaments to Victoria.

I also met with Madison Sports Group, a leading promoter of cycling events involving high profile international cyclists and attracting thousands of spectators, to discuss attracting new major cycling events to Victoria. These discussions will continue through Visit Victoria.

I toured the New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and sighted some of the pieces coming to the NGV as part of the 2018 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces. A positive outcome of this meeting was the agreement that MoMA and Visit Victoria will work together to maximise exposure for the event, as well as Melbourne's brand globally through MoMA's channels in the lead up to the event.

It is important that Victoria has the right infrastructure to support major sporting events. I toured some of the world's best stadia during this visit. I viewed the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is currently under construction in the UK, and the multi-purpose Barclay's Centre in the USA, to better understand how design trends have been incorporated into the designs. My insights from these visits will be applied in a Victorian context as part of the Victorian Government's Major Stadia Strategy review.

The right policy and strategic directions help Victoria's economy thrive

I met with the UK Government's Department for Communities and Local Government to discuss their views on the UK experience in setting regulatory and legislative guidelines on short-term accommodation. Information garnered from this meeting will be used to inform the Victorian Government's approach to this matter.

I met with Sport England, the UK Government agency responsible for growing and developing grassroots sport. Sport England is considered a world leader in the development and implementation of sport development strategies. We had an informative discussion around encouraging more women and girls to participate in the sector as players and in leadership roles. I talked about Victoria's 'Change our Game' campaign and work with VicHealth on adapting the successful Sport England 'This Girl Can' campaign. The Victorian Government is continuously looking for ways to strengthen our sport and recreation sector. Ongoing exchange of insights with Sport England has the potential to be of significant value to Victoria and to help inform the implementation of strategic directions under Active Victoria - A strategic framework for sport and recreation in Victoria.

I also met with Ticketmaster UK to discuss their business in Victoria, and the global issue of ticket scalping. Ticket scalping is an area of interest for legislative reform in many jurisdictions around the world. We discussed current legislation in the UK and their views on what is working and what is not. We also discussed the Victorian Government's position on ticket scalping and our intention to act to ensure more tickets get into the hands of real fans.

I met with Sported, a leading sport for development charity in the UK, who works with over 3,200 community clubs and groups to engage disadvantaged youth in sport programs. I talked about Victoria's priorities and initiatives to encourage participation, enhance health and wellbeing outcomes, and enhanced social outcomes.

Victoria prides itself on being the sports and major events capital of Australia. Our reputation relies on ensuring the safety and well-being of spectators and event goers at events held throughout the state. Major event organisers and venue management, in conjunction with Victoria Police, regularly review their security arrangements for major events held in Victoria.

To discuss approaches to public safety surrounding major events, I met with senior representatives from the New York Police Department and Tennis Australia to better understand their strategies to keep the public safe. These findings will be useful in a Victorian context and the Victorian Government will support ongoing efforts to continue our close relationship with the USA regarding intelligence sharing.

I was pleased that my meeting with Apple in San Francisco, USA, was followed by the 20 December 2017 announcement of its investment in Australia's first ever Apple Global Flagship Store, to open in Federation Square. This investment brings the opportunity to transform an iconic public space, create jobs and enhance Victoria's reputation as a leading investment centre.

Next Steps / Follow Up

Next steps and follow up from my travel include:

  • Work with Visit Victoria on MoU opportunities between Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways;
  • Continue to consult with Ticketmaster Australasia on potential changes to ticket scalping legislation in Victoria; 
  • Continue dialogue between VicHealth, Sport UK and Sport and Recreation Victoria regarding cooperative "This Girl Can" and "Change Our Game" campaigns to promote women and girls in sport; 
  • Visit Victoria to continue discussions with Madison Sports Group, a leading promoter of cycling events, regarding attracting more major events to Melbourne and Victoria;
  • The Victorian Government was pleased to announce in October 2017 that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be coming to Melbourne in early 2019; 
  • Work with US PGA on securing new Tier 1 global golf tournaments. The Victorian Government was pleased to announce on 5 December 2017 that the World Cup of Golf will return to Melbourne in 2018; 
  • It was announced on 15 December 2017 that Qantas will commence four direct services per week from San Francisco to Melbourne;
  • The Victorian Government was pleased to announce in December 2017 that Australia's first ever Apple Global Flagship Store will open at Federation Square.

Page last updated: 18 April 2018