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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 3673

Mrs KELLY —On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I present the report of the Committee on hospitality in the Australian Capital Territory, incorporating a minority report, together with the transcripts of evidence and extracts from the minutes of proceedings.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Mrs KELLY —by leave-On 22 January 1986 the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes) wrote to the Committee suggesting that the Committee inquire into and report on the state of the hospitality industry, its capacity to meet demand, prospects for its future and desirability and extent of government regulation. The Minister's request was made in the context of hospitality and tourism being vital industries in the Australian Capital Territory economy and furthering the Government's objective of diversifying the Territory's economic base. The Committee adopted the Minister's suggested terms of reference in February this year and conducted three public hearings as well as formal and informal inspections in Sydney and Melbourne. The Committee's inquiry is important in that it addresses major issues which have to be faced in the hospitality sector of the Australian Capital Territory economy. This must be done in a way which will maximise the tourist potential generated by events surrounding the opening of Parliament House and the bicentennial celebrations in 1988 and subsequent expansion of tourism in the Territory.

Tourism is one of the main growth areas in the Australian Capital Territory, employing 4 per cent of the work force in Australian Capital Territory restaurants, hotels and clubs. However, the industry's capacity to generate employment is greater than figures would indicate. Existing shortages will be aggravated by the completion of a number of new projects by 1988, including the new Parliament House, the Hyatt Hotel, formerly the Hotel Canberra, the Pavilion Hotel on the site of the former Wellington Hotel and the White Industries Hotel-Convention Centre. These new facilities could require as many as 1,500 staff. The question of staff shortages throughout the hospitality industry and the adequacy of existing training practices and facilities in the context of staff shortages and anticipated increase in demand for staff is examined in great detail in the Committee's report. The Committee found that the state of the hospitality industry varies significantly from one area to another. Accommodation is undergoing a period of significant expansion. Other areas such as restaurants are said to be experiencing stress resulting partly from excess capacity. The Committee has examined the question of oversupply of restaurants and considers that this is a question best solved in the market-place.

As well as commenting in turn on the various sectors included within the hospitality industry, the Committee also examined in detail a new administrative structure to co-ordinate tourism and economic development in an effective manner. A major recommendation of the Committee is to amalgamate the present Canberra Tourist Bureau and the Canberra Development Board. The new Board, to be known as the Australian Capital Territory Development Board, will be responsible for promoting, developing and providing economic assistance to tourism and hospitality in the Australian Capital Territory. In order to overcome past difficulties, this body should be established independently of the Department of Territories and have sufficient autonomy to react to changing needs and to provide immediate assistance to business when required. The new Board should be seen by private operators as a friendly and responsive organisation with sufficient flexibility to respond quickly to new developments and not be hampered by unnecessary bureaucratic procedures. It should also have direct access through its Chairman to the Minister for Territories. The need for this body has been reinforced by the abolition of the House of Assembly.

To consolidate this new approach there is also a need to prepare a tourist development plan to indicate how planning and development policies affecting the hospitality industry may be co-ordinated in the interests of further development. The tourist development plan would concentrate on overcoming deficiencies of present small scale and dispersed investments in tourism and identify areas where co-ordinated investment might yield the best returns. The Committee would like to ensure that the opportunities and challenges posed by developments leading up to 1988 and the potential associated with the predicted growth in tourism in that year are not missed.

Canberra, in its role as the national capital, is an obvious focus for a range of activities associated with the bicentennial celebrations and the opening of the new Parliament House. So that Canberra may derive maximum benefit from these developments, it is essential that the key areas examined in this report, namely training and promotion, be addressed so that Canberra's economy may benefit from the domestic, national and international market potential.

Finally, on behalf of the Committee, I thank the staff for their able assistance. I recommend the report to the House.

Sitting suspended from 6.33 to 8 p.m.