Australian operator Star Entertainment has unveiled a new strategy aimed at delivering Australia an increased share of the booming Asian tourism market.
In a move designed to position The Star and its multiple properties as more appealing destinations to international travellers, the company has launched a fresh China-facing brand. The Star’s name – still under the existing eight-pointed logo – has been reworked from the previous literal translation of “Star Harbour City” to “Millions of Stars”.
Managing Director and CEO, Matt Bekier, said the rebranding programs that created The Star Entertainment Group and The Star Gold Coast in the past couple of years provided the catalyst for the move.
“The previous brand was really only identifiable for Sydney, and certainly less prestigious, distinctive and dynamic than the one we will now present to Asian markets,” he said. “This showcases what we bring to our destinations in Sydney and south east Queensland, which is premium offerings and experiences.”
The brand will be supported by a new WeChat account for the Group, which also launched today.
“There is a global arms race at present with countries investing heavily and repositioning themselves to capitalise on substantial tourism growth out of Asia, particularly from China. By presenting ourselves as an integrated resort company where the finest hotels, restaurants, theatre shows, music acts and other entertainment options are available within single precincts in prime locations, we can provide a compelling point of differentiation.”
Mr Bekier said tourism forecasts highlighted the long-term opportunity on offer for Australia. There were 8.3 million inbound visitors to Australia for the 12 months to March 2018. Tourism Research Australia expects that number to rise to 15 million per annum within a decade. Chinese visitation was 1.3 million for the 12 months to March 2018. Within the next 10 years it is set to triple to 3.9 million. Around 50% of Chinese are return visitors.
“Our over-arching tourism strategy is about inspiring and attracting independent travellers from around the world, but obviously with a focus on Asia, and especially China,” Mr Bekier said. “The staggering wealth creation in China that has created a massive new middle-class demographic cannot be under-estimated when looking ahead at how Australia can expand the tourism sector.
“At the same time, we cannot be complacent. Just doing what we’ve been doing, delivering the product and experiences we have been delivering, will not be enough. Investment and infrastructure are key. More hotel rooms, better airport facilities and more seamless transport options for tourists have to be delivered.
“We also need a more focussed China-friendly approach. It is now our biggest source market for inbound visitation. The Chinese are also, by far, the biggest spenders in the tourism space. To ignore that will mean not fully leveraging the opportunity at hand.”
Mr Bekier said the new “Millions of Stars” brand continued the work The Star has undertaken to drive
its appeal to Chinese tourists. The company recently installed terminals that accept Wechat Pay and Alipay alongside China UnionPay, to make it easier for Chinese visitors to complete transactions at The Star Sydney property.
Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan welcomed The Star’s approach. “China is Australia’s largest and most lucrative overseas market and critical to our industry’s continued future success,” he said. “With so many international destinations competing aggressively for share of travel wallet, it’s critical that our industry continues to adapt to the changing needs of today’s increasingly savvy and sophisticated Chinese traveller.
“It’s great to see operators like The Star Entertainment Group prioritising what is already a near $11bn market with a clear China strategy that combines investment in their China brand, new infrastructure and tailored services such WeChat Pay payment systems.”
WeChat Pay is a payment solution integrated inside the social and messaging WeChat app owned by Tencent. Alipay is a mobile and online payment platform established by the Alibaba Group. WeChat has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Alibaba, a conglomerate specialising in ecommerce, retail, internet, artificial intelligence and technology, was the second Chinese company behind Tencent to achieve a market cap of $500bn.