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THOUGHT LEADERS SHARE KNOWLEDGE AT MANTRA GROUP CONFERENCE

Mantra Group Conference 2015 Australian hoteliers Mantra Group hosted a schedule of high profile speakers from the political and tourism arenas at their annual conference yesterday held at the company's Peppers Salt Resort in Kingscliff – the Group's premier conferencing venue.

Keynote speaker, former Australian Prime Minister, The Hon. Paul Keating headlined a morning focusing on the burgeoning opportunities for tourism with the growing Chinese inbound market. As PM, Keating was committed to changing focus from Australia's historic ties to Britain to building a future in its Asia-Pacific neighbourhood. With the growing middle class in both China and Indonesia it seems the tourism industry is set to make good on this approach.

Mantra Group Conference 2015 "For the next five to seven years Chinese wages will rise and air travel will remain relatively cheap - Australia is in the right geographical zone to capitalise on this," said Mr Keating.

However he spoke of the need to continually invest in new product.

"As an industry the exchange rate will only go so far - the big challenge for the industry is maintaining a standard that caters to increasing wealth of the Chinese traveller or they will move on to other things. There will be a need for more investment."

Fellow speaker, Lisa Ronson Chief Marketing Officer Tourism Australia confirmed that Chinese visitors spent A$5.7 billion in Australia last year.

"Asia is now our fastest growing inbound region, with visitors up around 11% last year. For the most part these visitors are smart, independent-minded travellers, possessing both the appetite and the financial means to enjoy international travel and quality tourism experiences."

Mantra Group Conference 2015 Mantra Group CEO Bob East said the Group were in an unprecedented position to capitalise on the strong Chinese inbound and domestic tourism outlook.

"We are well positioned with a healthy pipeline of new properties coming online in key CBD and leisure destinations around Australia to cater to the increased demand from the Asia market."

"Our brands fit well with this market – Peppers alignment with food and wine experiences is key for the FITs and Mantra's central city locations offer the right price point and facilities."

Mantra Group Conference 2015 Mr East believes the Australian based operator can offer a unique experience compared to international counterparts.

"Our staff are engaged and committed to offering the best Australian hospitality experience – friendly and efficient but with a relaxed style that Australians are known for. This approach is a natural and intrinsic part of the way we relate to our guests which sets us apart from our competitors."

As the second largest accommodation provider in Australia and the only pure-play hotel group listed on the ASX, East said he was pleased and honoured to attract such high calibre speakers:

Mantra Group Conference 2015 "Mantra Group is one of the most dynamic hotel operators in the Asia Pacific and it is a reflection of the business' success that we can share our knowledge with political and industry thought leaders."

Former TTF boss Christopher Brown and Tripadvisor's Julien Coste were also on the bill.

Day Two of the conference will see Australian of the Year Rosie Batty joined by Gold Medal Olympian Alisa Camplin and journalist Ellen Fanning for an in depth women's panel discussion.