Phillip Island showcases the power of conservation in creating a unique product

Not many places in the world can boast of activities where tourists can hand-feed Koala and Kangaroos in natural setting. Phillip Island in Australia is a testament to what can be achieved through scientific conservation and interactive tourism offerings. An interview its spokesperson Stephen Peppard, International Sales and Marketing representative

Stephen Peppard1Located some 140 kilometers southwest of Melbourne named after Arthur Phillip – the first governor of New South Wales – Phillip Island has carved a niche for itself as a destination for tourists heading to the Australian shores.  It is used as a farmland – sixty percent of the 100 square kilometer area – for grazing sheep and cattle, and inhabits less than ten thousand people. But, what makes it a unique destination is its rich fauna and Nature Parks which offers some of the most breathtaking activities for tourists to engage in.

Stephen Peppard, International Sales and Marketing Representative, Phillip Island Nature Parks shared that the Nature Parks offered an abundance of Australian wildlife in its natural setting. “The Nature Park manages many exciting attractions such as the world-famous Penguin parade, the brand new Antarctic journey at the Nobbies Ocean Discovery Centre, Wild Ocean Ecoboat Tours, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm,” he said.  He added that the Nature Parks, also, included many conservation reserves and recreation areas such as Pyramid Rock, Rhyll Inlet, Swan Lake, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Cape Woolamai and The Nobbies Centre which overlooked Australia’s largest population of fur seals. “Churchill Island’s working farm, The Koala Conservation Centre, The Nobbies Centre and the world famous Penguin Parade are all within ten minutes of each other. The emphasis is on wildlife, with the iconic Penguin Parade allowing visitors to see penguins in their natural habitat, and the Koala Conservation Centre is dedicated to koala research and conservation, allowing the opportunity to view koalas in their natural habitat on treetop boardwalks,” he explained.

“Besides activities, it had also emerged as an important centre to learn about conservation,” he added.

Leisure tourism aside, Phillip Island Nature Parks has also emerged as a formidable MICE venue. “The Nobbies Centre is a state of the art venue, perched on the cliffs overlooking the wild waters of Bass Strait. The private function rooms can cater for a variety of configurations. Whereas, Churchill Island is a unique private island of 57 hectares is open to you as a historic working farm,” he said.

Stephen explained that the island could cater for small intimate groups or larger groups of 2000 people. “Group activities can include traditional farming chores, milking cows, sheep shearing, and hand feeding baby animals. The Koala Conservation Centre has a number of spaces that can be utilized for a private dinner, conference or simply a casual BBQ,” Stephen detailed. Further explaining the scope of varied engagements, he said that “Wine tasting, Wildlife interaction such as feeding a kangaroo, photo opportunity with Australian wildlife like koalas, wallabies, wombats, emus were also on offer.”

Looking at the growth of Indian market, Indian outbound to Australia has been growing steadily. Only recently, business generated by the Indian outbound hit a billion Australian dollar mark – making it the eighth most important market for Australian tourism. This growth seems to have rubbed off on the Phillip Island as well. “We are seeing a tremendous growth from the Indian market. During the financial year from the 1st of July 2014 to the 30th of June 2015, we saw an increase of around 25 percent which was at least partly due to the World Cup,” shared Stephen. Adding that he hoped this growth to continue in the 15-16 financial year over percent, he said “it is testament to the massive potential the India market has.”

Stephen hoped for a fantastic growth and product awareness through a more intense association with the Indian trade partners. “I would like to see the 13% grow to around 18% by the end of this financial year at the end of June, then continue this growth to be somewhere around the 20% mark by December,” he said exuding confidence.

Stephen now intends to leverage from its India based representative which, to his understanding, will give them a distinct local advantage. “Blue Square consultants will be in a position to attend trade shows that would not have been viable for us in the past,” he said. “I am also planning a visit to India within the next few months to meet with Blue Square Consultants and to personally conduct some sales calls and product training. We attend ATE (Australian Tourism Exchange) every year which many Indian agents also attend,” he added. Adding that many of these agents did site inspections pre and post ATE, he said “it will be providing us with a great opportunity to promote our amazing wildlife experiences.”

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