Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Speech at Tourism Task Force luncheon, Sydney



Download PDFDownload PDF

I

dEir:re.v

PRIME MINISTER

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP TOURISM TASK FORCE LUNCHEON SYDNEY - 11 JUNE 1993

I am very glad to be here today. John Brown's powers of persuasion are unrivalled and legendary of course, but he didn't need to use them for this.

The modern Australian tourist industry and I grew up together, and even in front of John, I will be so immodest as to say that over the years I have given it more than one or two helpful shoves along.

The last of these shoves was last year in One Nation when we created a separate Cabinet portfolio for tourism, a new Department of Tourism and when we significantly increased funding for promoting Australia as a tourist destination.

This was less a visionary act than recognition of a vision realised, because the tourism industry really had earned its stripes.

I'm fond of reminding people how much Australians have changed in the past decade and a half. It seems to me that the changes we have made are proof of our capacity to make more changes - necessary changes.

The change from an inward look xenophobic Anglo-saxon society open and multicultural society remarkably rapid adoption of a culture is another. So is, in reorientation towards Asia.

Lng, even somewhat to a much more worldly, is one example. The co-operative industrial very recent times, our

Australians do have the capacity to adapt as the world and our place in it demands. This, of course, is the reason why I am confident that in time we will embrace the idea of a republican Australia and why we will achieve reconciliation with indigenous Australians.

It's why I think that we can find a successful and creative role in the world and the region, and a greater level of mature self-confidence and self-esteem. In the end these things depend on ourselves and on our faith in ourselves.

CO;.;MoN\4'EALTi-q PARLIAMENTARY Li RARY M1CA I

2

Now, the other striking example of our ability to adapt and grow and make the most of our natural advantages is the tourism industry. A decade ago it was at best embryonic. Very few Australians imagined that we were capable of developing the sophisticated standards of service and infrastructure which we now possess.

It has happened with quite extraordinary speed and we should find in it every reason for confidence, both in the future of the tourism industry and the future of the country.

As I'm sure you know, tourism has become a very significant source of export earnings and job creation in Australia. It is our fastest growing industry. It employs 457,000 people and earns us $8 billion in foreign exchange a year. It will create 200,000 new jobs in this decade, and in so doing provide a future for a very large number of yo un

g Australians.

The news is remarkably good. Studies by the Australian Tourist Commission indicate that we are already first or second most preferred destination in eight out of thirteen key market countries.

A recent New York Times/CBS Television survey listed Australia as the most favoured tourist destination for Americans. Australia rated three times more popular than France, Italy or Britain.

And new survey results which I'm pleased to release today show that Americans' satisfaction with Australia as a tourist destination is not only in the anticipation but also in the fulfilment of their holiday dreams. An

Australian Tourist Commission satisfaction study of the US market found that three out of four American holiday makers rate Australia better than any international destination they have visited.

An overwhelming 98 per cent of those surveyed said they would recommend Australia to friends and relatives.

The survey also found that Australia scored brilliantly on a wide range of criteria including hotels, tourist attractions, food and service standards, and friendliness.

It's one of th pleasures of this job that you get to tell the good news. Here it is.

98 per cent of Americans were very satisfied with the quality of our tourist attractions.

97 per cent were very satisfied with the friendliness and helpfulness of Australians.

97 were very satisfied with the quality of our hotels, staff, service standards and tour guides.

3

95 per cent rated Australia as a good or excellent • country to visit for a holiday.

• 96 per cent said their trip met or exceeded their expectations.

• And 89 per cent said they intended to return to Australia.

You don't get much better product endorsement than that.

Nevertheless, it's very important that we do not exaggerate the prospects for the Australian tourism industry or underestimate the issues facing it.

It's not money for jam but a very complex industry often confronted by problems beyond our control. The success of tourism relies on the right policy mix in regard to marketing, transport, immigration, investment and

infrastructure, training, taxation arrangements, international relations, cultural identity and industrial relations. The Government is determined to help the industry overcome impediments to growth in all these areas.

During the election campaign, I gave an undertaking to continue the conspicuous level of support given to the industry which in the recent past has included an extra $15 million in One Nation for tourist promotion,

additional resources for the new Department of Tourism, improved depreciation arrangements, and a further liberalisation of aviation policy.

The new commitments include $42 million over the next four years for the development and planning of tourism in regional Australia; the completion of the national ecotourism strategy and associated programs, and to promote growth in special interest areas such as rural tourism, coastal cruising and backpacking.

We also want to help the industry plan more accurately for future infrastructure needs.

The tourism industry has been plagued by boom-bust cycles. The investment boom in accommodation in the mid-eighties has resulted in an over-supply of rooms, a

decline in profitability, and a significant number of hotels ending up in the hands of bankers.

However there are signs that unless new investment is forthcoming, the current surplus of accommodation may become a severe deficit, at least in some regions.

We are stimulating tourism demand through international marketing combined with major reforms in the aviation industry.

4

But the lead times involved in the development of infrastructure mean that we have to anticipate this demand three to four years in advance.

Investment in tourism therefore crucially depends on our ability to forecast trends. At present, there is a lack of agreement within the industry on the credibility of particular tourism forecasts, and the reluctance to use these forecasts has confused planning decisions and contributed to the current low rates of occupancy and

lack of new investment.

To provide much better quality information on which investment decisions are made, we will establish a Tourism Forecasting Council.

The Council will report to the Minister and comprise key tourism industry, finance and building representatives with technical assistance from the Bureau of Tourism Research, industry research organisations and government

agencies.

The Council will perform a role somewhat like the Indicative Planning Council of the housing industry, where the industry, the government and other interested parties sit down a couple of times a year to make an annual forecast of housing growth. These forecasts are generally taken by the industry as the best guide to its

immediate future. In the same way, a tourism forecasting council should provide that extra information which can induce more confidence about the future and hence more confidence to underpin investment decisions.

By means of a Council, it is hoped that we will be able to smooth out boom-bust cycles by better matching supply and demand and improving industry planning and profitability.

The survey of the American market which turned up such wonderfully positive responses nevertheless highlighted some problem areas.

The one that concerns us most was the finding that American travel agents appear to underestimate what Australia has to offer as a tourist destination.

It appears that we need to put more emphasis on post-advertising marketing strategies which will convince these 35,000 travel agents to convert American enthusiasm for Australia into firm holiday bookings.

This is an issue which I know Michael Lee plans to concertedly address in the coming months.

You will be aware, I imagine, of the emphasis I have placed on "partnership" in developing a more cohesive, stronger and competitive Australia. It was the theme of One Nation. And despite the hiccup on another matter in

5

recent days, I am not at all deterred from continuing to pursue it, particularly in relation to the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

The tourism industry especially needs a spirit and a framework of partnership and co-operation.

We need to break down the old artificial demarcation between State trade development and Commonwealth consumer market promotion.

By providing an opportunity to work co-operatively towards a common goal, the concept of Partnership Australia will enable us to be both more efficient and more cost-effective.

What we need is a united effort to promote the idea of "Destination Australia", not just "Destination New South Wales" or "Destination Queensland".

I was very pleased to see that the Northern Territory has recently decided to join Partnership Australia and will be allocating a percentage of its total marketing budget to co-operative ventures and tactical marketing

opportunities.

The maximum effectiveness of our integrated marketing efforts overseas can be achieved only with the participation of all States and Territories in Partnership Australia.

And I sincerely hope the other State Tourist Commissions will respond positively to the ATC's efforts to co-opt their support.

The Commonwealth Government has worked to reduce the barriers to tourist growth through liberalising aviation policy, providing additional resources for policy development, through the taxation system, through the

promotion of flexible industrial relations and through the provision of more and better training.

If we can resolve to work more closely together, we can build on what we have already achieved and maximise the potential we know exists.

The beneficiaries, in no particular order, will be Australia and you - the industry. Partnership Australia offers a better means of handling enquiries and distributing product information. It will improve the effectiveness of our marketing effort. It will mean that we can offer to the world a total and unambiguous

Australian product - not the bits but the whole show.

So I urge you all to assist our efforts to persuade the States and Territories to commit to Partnership Australia and "Destination Australia".

••' I r

6

I said at the beginning that nothing confirms my faith in Australia's future so much as the changes we have made in the recent past. I said that there is no better example of this than the tourism industry. However, I know that the people here would be the last to say that we can rest on our laurels.

I can give you now an absolute assurance that the Commonwealth Government will continue to support the tourism industry in every way that we can - and in Michael Lee you will find you have a very responsive Minister with great energy, ideas and skill.

The Commonwealth Government will give you this. What we seek from you is nothing more than a continuing commitment to work with us and with each other in the interests of the industry and Australia.

And knowing that you have come so far along this road in the last decade, I have no doubt that that is what we are going to see as never before in the next decade. A partnership which will make the industry - and Australia

- that much stronger.

I wish you all the best in your efforts and thank you again for inviting me here.

/5I

PRIME MINISTER

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT FROM PRIME MINISTER'S ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIAN TOURISM TASK FORCE LUNCHEON, SYDNEY, 11/6/93

"...Australia does have great things about it and I think it's very important that we understand ourselves what we have and seek to protect it. John (Brown) mentioned at the table the importance now of the environment in tourism, and people coming to Australia to see something that they can't see in any other part of the world...this is just about the oldest part of the world's crust, the flora and the fauna here are different to everywhere else in the world and people do come here to see something they can't see somewhere else and it's important therefore that we protect a lot of these things.

And I think that some of the things we did in the eighties, like preserving the wet tropics area of north Queensland has been an important draw to the north Queensland community, the work of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in preserving the Marine Park and understanding it better — the reef ecosystem better — is important to us, the declarations

of some of the wilderness areas of NSW and Tasmania have been important, the role of the States themselves — let me pay tribute to Neville in the pe riod he was Premier in declaring National Parks in NSW — these things are quite impo rtant and we have as a country taken opportunities to preserve the natural environment in many key places.

We've not done as well with the built environment, and I think this lets a lot of people down and it is one of the things we have to concentrate on over the period, but it is important that places important to tourism are developed sensitively. Let me give you an example say with Cairns in Queensland. Cairns is a place which has not been developed sensitively. It's an important tourism place. There's no point in building 16 storey hotels in the middle of Cairns when the building next, door is a two storey warehouse or one storey residential accommodation. You can double the footprint of these buildings and halve the height and keep them more of human scale than just letting the developers dominate these municipal or shire councils, or city councils trying to get their way.

And I think it's important to take stock of places like Cai rns to say, look, if this is one of the attractions, let's keep it an attraction. If people come here to see it as a town in the Queensland tropics, let's keep like a town in the Queensland tropics and let's not develop

C011iM0i^ WEA(-T1-! PARLIA

L 4 NIARYL1ERA J

RY

tv'lCAH

-2—

it as a Miami Beach or Surfers Paradise or somewhere else. In that wonderful hinterland of Cairns across the river of that wonderful mountain and the mangroves, there is a development proposal there, and it may well be that that development could proceed but again, in those things, you're then playing with the actual attractions of the city itself and you notice it. I'll give you an example, you cross into Douglas shire in Queensland — no building above tree height, the environment and public access to the beaches and things have a premium on them and of course the development of the wet tropics area which is within that shire — all of those things go towards making a long term attraction for the tourism industry.

I think the environment and the built environment beyond the capital cities are very important to us — as are the services we provide in the capital cities themselves. And in Sydney, which is of course the main port of entry for tourism, we tried to do things not only has the city improved dramatically over the past ten years — and again let me pay tribute to Neville (Wran) for developing a core in the City of Sydney, if you like, in these key places like Darling Harbour and the Macquarie Street area and down by the Quay-side — these are important things and I was very pleased to see John Fahey express interest a week or two ago in knocking over the Cahill Expressway and beautifying the whole Quay—side area.

We've just done a deal with the Sydney City Council with Frank Sartor, where we've now, on a sixty year lease, given the City of Sydney the Customs House which we think will be the key civic building of the Quay—side and can provide, itself, an important contribution to Quay—side tourism and tourism of the city with so much of the maritime history which the Quay represents being involved there. And of course the buildings near the Opera House which we've just signed an agreement with the City Council to see them sensitively developed with proper height limitations to pay due and appropriate deference to one of the world's greatest buildings, the Opera House, is again another important thing in terms of Sydney.

As are things like the second runway which has taken so many years to bring to fruition and yet we're seeing substantial and rapid progress on seeing that second runway form itself out there in the bay and seeing it go into place. All these things, I think, are things the Federal Government's been involved in so its more than just a bit of money to the Tourism Commission and something in the depreciation schedules, I think we've been genuinely interested in the industry as a destination for people to come in these areas of the capital cities and the services in the cities and beyond the cities in the remote areas, to keep them as beautiful as we've known them to be and where they have to be maintained.

That is, there should be an emphasis on the environment and an emphasis on beauty. This is not a word which, in planning terms, ever sort of cuts the mustard. Providing we're always run by either developers or engineers but not often enough by architects and the result is we are not beautifying our capital cities. And if we are not wise to that we won't

-3-

attract people to this country to come and sec it. Why would you come and see something you can go to see down the west or cast coast of the United States when were sort of seeking to emulate or duplicate what they have when in fact we can do something so much better. So the environment I think does matter a great deal.

Airlines have been another important change in the One Nation package. One of the important changes was for Qantas to acquire Australian Airlines so that we could develop Ansett as a second international carrier. You will have noticed in the last week or two that Ansett arc now flying to parts of south-east Asia and will now qualify for some important schedule of flight into Kansai Airport, Osaka Airport, service in Japan and this is an important development in our aviation history, to develop a second Australian carver and to have it working out there is going to be very important to tourism.

Can I also say that we are having a dispute with the United States at the moment about Northwest Airlines and I think that Qantas as a corporate entity and its role in the world has been Important to the Government and to all Australians but I don't want to sec the Australia-Japan traffic dominated by just a couple of carriers where they are basically lifting an economic rent out of the travellers and diminishing the number of people coming to Australia. These things should always be kept in balance.

Nor do we want to see American carriers breaking their signed agreements in terms of their access. We can have access and people on these routes providing that they are negotiated ones but where the objective has to be that more people visit Australia than not. So in terms of what will guide our policy towards these things it will be the number of people coming to Australia rather than which particular Airline is flying them, but I don't in that sense want to give Northwest any encouragement that is those who break agreements can't expect to be treated well. But, again, Australia will have a balanced approach towards airline policy both in and out of Australia and policy will not be made exclusively for Qantas.

Now, we did well with Qantas and we'll do well when we see it developed as a public company where it's got a better availability of capital to it and can develop itself properly, which it has not really been able to do with a Government guarantee and a lot of debt, and I do look forward to that time and I think the British Airways purchase of Qantas will make a great deal of difference to the operations of Qantas within a world system, and the fit between British Airways routes and Qantas routes was really quite an uncanny fit and one which should be a partnership that works well. But, again, they'll only be a minority holder in Qantas and the majority, which will be the Australian public ought to be able to turn Qantas into a first class carrier with a good debt to equity ratio in the company, and with people like Mr Pemberton as its Chair then there's really no reason why we can't develop an airline company with already a substantial reputation can grow along in Asia. But seeing Ansett grow along with it will be, I think, important to us as well.

9 1

-4-

When I was recently in New Zealand with Prime Minister Jim Bolger we agreed on facilitating trans-Tasman flying and we'll be flying domestic terminal to domestic terminal probably by Christmas and this should make quite a difference to tourism across the Tasman where you can go on to an Australian Airlines or Ansett flight and hop off in Wellington or Auckland as the case may be rather than through the international terminals and this is another change which came from the One Nation package. So the shift to the acquisition of Australian by Qantas, the development of Ansett as a second carrier, the trans-Tasman flying this must augur well for the tourism industry in general in getting more sensible airline arrangements.

The other thing I think we need to do is to again focus on our cultural identity and this is why I think it is important - not that we want to sign everybody up - though we'd like to - not that we can sign everybody up in the movement to an Australian Republic but the fact is that it will help our identity as will coming to terns with the aspirations of Aboriginal Australia. Aboriginal culture is now featuring much more in the culture of Australia and in the culture of Australian tourism as it should. And as one of the signature tunes of this country in terms of its art and what have you and of course the more we progress that issue as a country the better off we'll be, not only at home in our own relations one to another, but in the view of the rest of the world which approves of countries which can get their acts together and run themselves sensibly and at the same time distinguishing our culture by what the Aboriginal community can bring to the culture of Australia. So these things like our cultural identity, the environment, having a sensible transportation policy, as well as all the other things, general promotion, tax incentives and the like, I think are important and that's why I have wanted to see tourism as a Cabinet ranked post and why we've set up a department of Tourism because it is an important industry and it can play an important role and 1 know in Michael Lee we have a Minister who will take the industry's interests to heart and barrack for them sensibly and appropriately in the places that matter."