Quality wins at Tourism Victoria Case Competition
Ecotourism on Victoria’s dramatic Shipwreck Coast versus Melbourne as an esports hub were two of the quality ideas that battled for the $5000 first prize at the recent 2015 Melbourne Business School-Tourism Victoria Case Competition.
The suggestions for boosting visitors to Victoria were among the best five ideas presented to the judges by our MBA students, looking to grab the lion’s share of the $10,000 prize pool.
The prize money was provided through a generous donation to MBS from John Kennedy, a former Tourism Victoria chairman, founder of the UK-based Austravel company and a passionate believer in encouraging fresh ideas and top talent in the tourism industry. And our MBAs didn’t let him down.
2015 Tourism Victoria Case Competition finalists
(from left): Bronwyn Portes, Manoj Sridhar, Heather Watson, Natalia Rodrigues and Samuel Marshall.
First to present was Heather Watson (MBA 2015), who suggested turning Melbourne into an esports epicentre, where gamers from around the world come to watch the best teams battle for supremacy in their favourite games.
“The key to keeping Melbourne as Australia's events capital is looking forward to what's next, seeing the emerging trends that we can get on early, ahead of competing cities,” she said.
With some 205 million gaming fans worldwide, and the number growing 20 per cent a year, playing and watching electronic games, such as League of Legends, Counter Strike, Dota 2, World of Warcraft and The Witcher, is big business.
Heather said that esports is huge in China and South Korea, where the majority of fans are, but Europe and the US now have some 50 million followers, with annual growth exceeding 20 per cent.
The best players compete for over $71 million in prize money and can earn $1 million each a year, she said, and watching them play is hugely popular. Last year, Amazon paid around $1 billion for the Twitch website, where some 100 million people watch live games each month.
A tough case to top with statistics like that, but not for part-time MBA student, Bronwyn Portes, who felt an immersive eco-experience on Victoria’s wild west coast would woo the judges and the growing number of ecotourists, seeking a total escape from their always-on urban lives.
Bronwyn said a 28 km stretch of the Shipwreck Coast, three hours from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, is the perfect place for low-impact, 4.5-star eco-lodges at Princeton, Loch Ard Gorge and the Bay of Islands.
The coast takes its name from the 630-plus ships that smashed into its rugged shores in the first 100 years after Europeans arrived in Victoria in the 1830s. It includes national and marine parks, cultural heritage sites and the famous, sea-and-wind-carved rock formations of the Twelve Apostles.
Bronwyn says ecolodges in the pristine environment would attract affluent, socially conscious ecotourists.
“Ecotourists, with their strong social awareness and focus on nature and culture, represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the domestic market. These tourists to the area mainly come from Melbourne and spend far more than anyone else when they visit,” she said.
The Great Ocean Road consistently rates among the top-ten places that Australians want to visit and attracts over six million visitors a year, a number expected to exceed 10 million by 2030, including two million ecotourists.
“There’s a forecasted need for 3000 beds along the Great Ocean Road and 900 on the Shipwreck Coast. I'm suggesting 180–220 of these beds could be at eco-lodges.”
An experience worth repeating
Bronwyn said eco-lodges on the Shipwreck Coast, developed with traditional landowners, local shires, businesses and Parks Victoria, would allow visitors to contribute to the local community, preserve the landscape and Aboriginal culture, and have an experience they would want to repeat.
And the judges agreed, awarding her first prize ahead of Heather’s idea, which won the $3000 second-place prize.
But none of the finalists made judging easy for Tourism Victoria’s Regional Communication Manager Jodie Stevens and Infrastructure and Investment Projects Manager Nick Byrne and MBS’s Associate Professor Jody Evans and Assistant Professor Brandon Lee.
The winner of the $2000 third-place prize, Samuel Marshall, presented a complex but compelling case for bringing a touch of tango to Melbourne by encouraging Emirates Airlines, whose Australian operations are based in the city, to introduce direct flights to Buenos Aires.
Manoj Sridhar presented a similar case but suggested Qantas partner with Chile’s LAN/TAM airline group to fly directly from Melbourne to San Diego to exploit growth in the Australia–South America route.
Another finalist, Natalia Rodrigues proposed improving the visitor experience to Melbourne through an easy-to-use public transport pass and events calendar, also available as a combined mobile app, plus free Wi-Fi in the CBD area – ideas that even locals would welcome.
High quality all round
Jodie Stevens congratulated all the finalists for the high quality and creativity of their work but was especially impressed by Bronwyn’s effort.
“From beginning to end,’ she said, “your presentation left us without any doubt that you had totally investigated all aspects of your case.”
In reply, Bronwyn said she was grateful for the opportunity to put her passion for the environment into practice.
“It’s given me such a great sense of accomplishment. It’s an absolute credit to all my teachers. I'm really grateful because you don't get the chance to do something like this often.”