Brisbane : Tourism Insights

Travel Team
By Travel Team 10 Min Read


The Brisbane Economic Development Agency is the official tourism organisation that promotes the region as the ideal destination for travellers who enjoy city life with additional features. Lorelle Chittick, the General Manager of Tourism, Business, and Major Events, provides expert insights on what makes Queensland’s capital an elevated experience and a precious jewel in the state’s tourism industry.


Firstly, could you talk us through the origins of the Brisbane Economic Development Agency, its initial vision, and current goals?

Lorelle Chittick, General Manager of Tourism, Business, and Major Events (LC):  The Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) is the official Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for Brisbane, focused on profiling the destination to domestic and international audiences to support the growth of the region’s broader visitor economy. 

The Brisbane brand, encompassing BEDA’s Visit Brisbane channels, was relaunched in 2021 to increase awareness of Brisbane as a contemporary holiday destination for travellers. 

Brisbane is Queensland’s vibrant capital city with an abundance of unique cultural, sporting, and tourism experiences, award-winning dining options, and stunning natural surroundings for visitors to soak up and explore.  

As future host city to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brisbane is dedicated to raising the city’s global profile and ensuring visitors stay updated via Visit Brisbane channels. 

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Brisbane? What makes it stand out from other Australian cities?

LC: Brisbane offers the best of many worlds in one – endless year-round sunshine and a subtropical climate, unique urban experiences such as world-class shopping, award-winning dining, including Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year for 2023, Agnes, and a thriving cultural scene – not to mention a blockbuster major events calendar boasting world-exclusives.  

Brisbane’s stunning regions are home to ancient rainforests and pristine tropical islands, Moreton Island/Mulgumpin, and North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, are brimming with iconic Australian wildlife – all this within an hour of the city, it doesn’t get much better than that!

What kind of travellers does Brisbane appeal to the most?

LC: Brisbane is a city that excites and entices visitors of all ages and demographics. From family stays to luxury escapes, adventure enthusiasts to social buzz seekers – there’s something for everyone in our city.  

With the continuation of the Year of Accessible Tourism (YOAT) in Queensland, BEDA is working with industry to support the growth of accessible and inclusive businesses and experiences, and make Brisbane an all-abilities destination of choice. 

What is Brisbane’s most underrated attraction?

LC: Brisbane is connected by the iconic winding Brisbane River. The landmark connects multiple entertainment hubs, from the cultural centre in South Bank to the renowned riverside precinct, Howard Smith Wharves, set under the Story Bridge and stretching beyond to the likes of Eat Street Northshore, where over 70 venues serve up international dishes from vibrant shipping containers, and the idyllic, leafy suburb of New Farm with cosy cafés.  

Each of these riverside precincts showcase some of Brisbane’s best dining and bar offerings, from upmarket Italian at Otto Trattoria to the laid-back al fresco dining and local brews at Felons Brewing Co.  

Home to Agnes, as well as several rooftop bars and al fresco riverside venues – Brisbane’s dining scene is thriving. 

What activities would you recommend for visitors travelling to Brisbane in the autumn?

LC: Whether searching for adventure, beachside luxury, 5-star urban stays, or acclaimed restaurants and bars, there’s plenty to do in Brisbane.  

Embrace the city’s endless summer with a trip to nearby islands, such as North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah or Moreton Island/Mulgumpin.  

Enjoy the al fresco lifestyle at Brisbane’s premium riverside precinct, Howard Smith Wharves, or dare to dine 17m in the air at Vertigo, perched off the side of Brisbane Powerhouse, overlooking the city skyline.  

Wander through UNESCO World Heritage rainforests in the Scenic Rim or explore the river on a three-storey entertainment vessel, Oasis, or a self-captained picnic boat. 

Revel in Brisbane’s jam-packed events calendar, from sporting showdowns like the Brisbane Cycling Festival and NRL Magic Round to cultural movements such as the Brisbane Comedy Festival and exclusive art exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.

What trends are currently transforming tourism in Brisbane, and how are you harnessing them?

LC: An integral part of our work at BEDA is to increase and enhance our tourism product in Brisbane. This ultimately boosts our visitor economy by enticing people to stay longer and experience more. 

In 2023, as part of YOAT, BEDA helped deliver the Access Accelerator programme, which is aimed at enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of the tourism industry in the Brisbane region.  

18 businesses participated in the programme, which featured one-on-one mentoring, free accessibility and inclusion audits, and disability awareness training. 

Additionally, as home to one of the world’s oldest living cultures, BEDA plays an important role in supporting and growing First Nations tourism experiences and operators across Brisbane. 

What can travellers in search of luxury expect from Brisbane?

LC:  Brisbane has an array of 5-star luxury hotels with rooftop pools and wellness spas, from Emporium Hotel and Crystalbrook Vincent positioned on the river, to hinterland retreats set on sprawling acreage like Beechmont Estate and Spicers Peak Lodge.  

Embark on private helicopter tours to local vineyards or day trips to stunning tropical islands.  

Stroll down Brisbane’s iconic outdoor shopping strips, James Street and Queen Street Mall, and browse Australian fashion labels, boutique stores, and hidden arcades. Indulge further by staying at chic 5-star property, The Calile Hotel, which came 12th 12 in the World’s 50 Best Hotels list for 2023. 

Female Couple staying in a Villa at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

How do you promote tourism whilst also respecting the traditional custodians of the land?

LC: BEDA ensures that tourism activity within the First Nations realm is aligned with the Queensland First Nations-led Tourism Strategy and Cultural Protocols Framework.  

We work closely with First Nations tourism businesses as they continue to develop and grow their incredibly immersive and educative experience offerings.  

BEDA also facilitates a First Nations Tourism Relationship Building Programme that involves our First Nations tourism businesses in extending cultural learning activities to the wider tourism industry. 

There is an exciting and diverse range of authentic First Nations tourism experiences within the city and surrounding region. These include Nyanda Cultural Tours, Aboriginal Art Co., BlackCard Cultural Tours, Birrunga Gallery and Dining, Yura Tours, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins Art Studio, Matt Burns Cultural Experiences, Yarriba Dreaming, and Dreamtime Kullilla-Art. Additionally, Minjerribah Camping and Maiala Park Lodge are stunning First Nations-owned and operated accommodation experiences. 

How do you foresee Brisbane’s tourism sector developing in the coming year?

LC: At BEDA, we are passionate about elevating Brisbane’s national and global profile to ensure widespread economic prosperity. 

We’ve had a strong start to the year, with Brisbane named one of the top places in the world to visit by The New York Times, Frommer’s, and TIME Magazine thanks to its incredible diversity of experiences.  

These accolades are fuelling an unstoppable momentum for Brisbane’s tourism sector in 2024, with Tourism Research Australia data for the year ending September 2023 revealing record-breaking visitor spend, with AUD$7.2 billion in total domestic overnight expenditure, up 35 percent year-on-year and 36.8 percent from 2019. 

We’ve seen a strong rebound from the Chinese market with the commencement of China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines late last year. Singapore Airlines is also set to increase to four weekly flights into Brisbane from November 2024. By Christmas this year, Brisbane will also be home to four giants of North American aviation: Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada.  

There’s never been a better time to be in Brisbane. Our popularity as a year-round holiday destination is soaring, with people visiting our beautiful city in record numbers to live, work, explore, and invest.

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine