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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1618

Tourism


Senator O'SULLIVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Tourism, Senator Colbeck. Can the minister update the Senate on the performance of Australian's tourism industry?


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:57): I thank Senator O'Sullivan for his question. I am very pleased to be able to inform the Senate that today's tourism industry figures indicate that the industry is performing exceptionally well. You do not have to take my word for it; reports from Deloitte, McKinsey and the Business Council of Australia have confirmed that tourism is one of Australia's super-growth sectors and it is underpinning our economic future.

Just this morning, we saw a string of tourism records smashed with the release of the latest international visitor survey. The number of international visitors to Australia increased by eight per cent. Expenditure increased by 18 per cent to reach a new record high of $36.6 billion. That is an impressive rise of $5.5 billion in just one year. This is the largest increase on record and the highest percentage growth since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Tourism contributes $100 billion a year to the Australian economy—that is, three per cent of our GDP. It is also a critical contributor to the development of regional Australia, accounting for 14 per cent of our regional economies. The government's efforts to increase flight capacity, visa reforms and targeted international marketing campaigns, as well as the lower Australian dollar, have all contributed to this very, very strong growth.


Senator O'SULLIVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:59): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Following the transition from the mining boom, how is the tourism industry supporting the creation of new jobs and growth in the economy?


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:59): I thank Senator O'Sullivan again for his question. As I said in my primary answer, tourism has been identified as one of the five super-growth sectors of the Australian economy. It is, in fact, underpinning our economic future, and it will help the economy transition away from the mining boom.

At a time of structural change, the growth of our tourism industry will be one of the essential elements to rebalance and re-position our economy for new jobs. Almost one million—or one in 12—workers in Australia are employed in the tourism sector compared to 280,000 in the mining industry. Strong growth is forecast for our tourism industry over the next decade, at the rate of 4.1 per cent each year, and that is well above the national growth average. It is clear that tourism is an important economic portfolio and a major employer.


Senator O'SULLIVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (15:00): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. What a phenomenal job you have done, Minister, in your short time in the portfolio! What opportunities lay ahead for the tourism industry, particularly in regional Australia?

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left!



Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (15:00): Again, I thank Senator O'Sullivan. With 44c in every tourism dollar spent in regional areas, it is clear that there are significant opportunities in regional Australia. The report released this morning shows that the attraction of regional Australia to international visitors was significant. Visits to wineries increased by 37 per cent. Visits to farms increased by 14 per cent. Visits to national or state parks increased by 13 per cent. One hundred and twenty million Chinese took an international holiday last year. Of those 120 million, one million came to Australia. That number is projected to double to two hundred million by 2020.

Senator Wong interjecting

Senator COLBECK: Senator Wong is right: we should be seeking to increase the numbers. (Time expired)

Senator Brandis: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.