ATEAustralian Tourism ExchangeTourism Australia We’ve been officially promoting the Australian tourism industry for 50 years, and the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is now in its 38th year. The stars of the show this year include the Great Barrier Reef, our unique wildlife – oh, and Chris Hemsworth.The partnership with Chris Hemsworth has proved a successful one, reaching over 5 million people through his Instagram stories and with a whopping 80 per cent of Australians approving the Hollywood star as our global ambassador.We’ve come a long way from promoting Australia by throwing a shrimp on the barbie and cracking a cold one, this year at ATE, delegates had the opportunity to do business with 555 Australian tourism businesses, including a growing number of specialist collections, promoting Australia’s best luxury accommodation, best golfing and fishing experiences, best wine regions and indigenous experiences, and new this year, best wildlife experiences.Twelve of Australia’s leading independently owned wildlife tourism experiences have united to form Australian Wildlife Journeys, a new organisation showcasing immersive wildlife encounters across natural habitats.The experiences represent a wide array of Australia’s landscapes, from coral reefs, coastal and alpine eucalypt woodlands, wet and dry rainforests, wetlands to desert sandplains and includes Arkaba Wildlife Conservancy; Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours; Exceptional Kangaroo Island; Exmouth Diving; Goin’ Off Safaris; Lady Elliot Island; Lords Kakadu and Arnhem Land Safaris; The Maria Island Walk; Oz Whale Watching; Premier Travel Tasmania; SEIT Outback Australia and Wildlife Coast Cruises.“Increasingly we see wildlife travellers that understand the unprecedented rate of biodiversity loss across the world and want ensure their visit is sustainable and where possible, include opportunities to regenerate natural habitats for future generations. We are delighted to have assembled a group of world-class experiences and guides that are addressing this growing sense of custodianship,” said Craig Wickham, of Exceptional Kangaroo Island and Chair of the Australian Wildlife Collection.Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said Australia’s offering of world-class nature and wildlife were key motivating factors for international visitors choosing to visit our destination.“Australia’s world-class nature is a major drawcard for international visitors and we know from our consumer research that for 38 per cent of travellers it is the most important factor when choosing their holiday destination, after factors such as safety and value for money,” Mr O’Sullivan said.The other star of the show was the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef has suffered something of an identity crisis this year, with widespread media reports declaring the Reef “dead’ following two bleaching events.The tourism industry has rallied, with the launch of ‘Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’, headed up by Andy Ridley, founder of Earth Hour. Citizens of the GBR aims to engage people globally to act NOW, to do something about climate change.“Right now, the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef will take your breath away, but be in no doubt that the pressures to its future are real and immediate. Over the past two years the Great Barrier Reef has experienced successive major bleaching events and the urgent need for action at a global and local level is critical.“We can’t wait for someone else to take the lead, we need a massive effort at a global scale to protect and conserve the Reef.”In addition to direct intervention projects on the Reef, the organisation is mapping out an ambitious program to engage citizens through education and by engaging with brands and communities that are adopting circular economy principles.The Great Barrier Reef is not dead – it is alive and kicking, and still amazing visitors every day. Hopefully now, with this new initiative in place, people all over the world will also learn how their actions and behaviour – both directly and indirectly – can save the Great Barrier Reef.