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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3757


Mr JULL —My question is directed to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism. Is it a fact that with the present value of the currency the average Japanese tourist arriving in Australia now has approximately $5,000 to spend during his one-week holiday here? Is it also true that the same tourist leaves Australia with about $2,000 unspent, primarily because of inconvenient shopping hours, lack of goods that are appealing to the Japanese, and in some cases because of the attitudes of Australian shop assistants? In light of the sums being spent by the Australian Tourist Commission on promotion in Japan, is the Government prepared to promote the concept of flexible hours to proprietors, unions and State governments and to promote the need to service these visitors; or are we looking at what is a somewhat inefficient use of tourism promotion dollars if we have tourists leaving Australia with our potential dollars in their pockets?


Mr JOHN BROWN —I probably would have treated this question with scorn if it had come from most other members of the Opposition. However, the honourable member for Fadden does show not only an understanding of but also an abiding interest in tourism. It is a pity that his skills are not employed on the Opposition's front bench. Perhaps in the next month or two I might find that I have an adversary who knows something about the subject. Having said that, it strikes me that the question was rather negative, which is somewhat out of character with the usual style of the honourable member for Fadden. There is no evidence to back up this claim, which I have seen in the Press. However, it is probably worth making a few observations on this matter.

There is no question that the growth of tourism from Japan to Australia is, to say the least, sensational. We are looking at something like a 50 per cent increase over this year in the number of Japanese tourists coming into Australia. They obviously would not come here if they were not very satisfied with the product they were experiencing. There is an argument to be made out for greater flexibility in shopping hours. It surprises me that the honourable member for Fadden, being a resident of Queensland, should ask this question. I must say that if all States followed the example of the Government of New South Wales in introducing flexible shopping hours-not just for tourists from overseas but also for its own residents-perhaps this question might not need to be asked. I am not suggesting in the least that everything is perfect, because it is not. However, there is not much this Government can do to induce State governments of varying political colours to come into the twentieth century with regard to shopping hours.

As far as the availability of good products is concerned, I think the range of products that is available to Japanese tourists is much better than it was two or three years ago. It is a fact that it is a tradition of Japanese tourists to take home presents for their families and friends. I can tell the honourable member for Fadden that, as I understand it, the total spent on presents in Australia by Japanese tourists last financial year was somewhere around the $100m mark. So it is an enormous industry. All I can do as a Minister is to encourage State governments to have a look at their shopping hours and also to encourage unions to be part of that process. I can also ask State tourist commissions to encourage those people who are dealing in the souvenir and presents trade to raise the standard of the goods that are available.