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Art and culture can contribute to tourism

Art and culture can contribute to tourism
May 25, 2013

Cultural institutions are recognising the contribution they can make to the local tourism industry for the industry's benefit and their own, ongoing viability, according to the former head of Tourism at the Sydney Opera House.

Speaking ahead of next month's Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Symposium event to be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 6th and 7th June), Simon Spellicy, now a partner at industry consultancy Sandwalk Partners, says this change of attitude is important to the future success of cultural institutions.

Spellicy explained "in recent years, cultural institutions have needed to move from being reliant on government funding and recognise a more commercial model can be the answer. This is a challenge for some who see a commercial imperative as being at odds with their primary artistic or cultural purpose.

"They are being driven to reconcile their artistic vision with the new commercial reality and this should be seen as a real positive."

Spellicy, formerly the General Manager of Tourism at Sydney Opera House, and his Partners at Sandwalk, helped spearhead the new focus on tourism and commercially viable operations for the Australian icon.

He added "the Opera House, like many cultural institutions, overcame resistance to a commercial model when the realities of diminishing government funding forced a significant shift in thinking.

"This meant we were able to find a way to engage tourism, F&B and retail as significant revenue drivers and make the experience consistent with the core artistic values of the institution.

"Cultural institutions that depend on big selling, high profile events such as exhibitions or major festivals, have to contend with a feast or famine business cycle. There is a real opportunity to build greater connection with the tourism industry in order to maintain the level of consistent visitation that can help them break out of this cycle."

Spellicy believes that industry research clearly shows cultural tourists spend more, stay longer and research their destination before travelling.

"Branding and promoting our cultural assets by building the desire in visitors to see and experience them, is an effective way to increase visitation across the board.

"Visitors are attracted to places that are lively with a strong cultural life because they know they can turn up at any time and have a worthwhile cultural and tourism experience- of course all of this adds strength to a destination's brand.

"Australia has the cultural assets, we just need to package them and promote them to make them more accessible.

"This is a real opportunity for the tourism industry to reach out to their local cultural institutions and find ways to bundle experiences with tourism product to help make both sectors strong and sustainable."

The ATEC Symposium will take place at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 4th to 7th June.

For more information or to register go to

Image shows the West Australia Symphony Orchestra.

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