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Opening of Sports Tourism Symposium, Canberra, 5th October.



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Jackie Kelly, Minister for Sport and Tourism Opening of Sports Tourism Symposium, Canberra 5th October 2000

I'm delighted to open "Sport-Generated Tourism: Exploring the Nexus".

What great timing for the conference - right in the middle of the biggest and best example of sport tourism in the world!

And what incredible images the world has seen over the last two weeks!

On Day One of the competition, the triathlon events - set against the panoramic backdrop of Sydney Harbour - were beamed to a record global television audience of nearly four billion people. What a great advert for Australia!

And as always, our Olympians made history.

Like our women's waterpolo team. They fought so hard to get women's waterpolo into the Olympics, then went on to win the first gold medal ever for their sport.

And what about that magic moment when the entire nation held its breath as Cathy Freeman sprinted to victory, winning Australia's 100th gold medal? You couldn't plan a moment like that!

Is it any wonder that over 110,000 people came to Sydney from around the world to be part of the action?

Like all Australians, I have some wonderful Olympic memories.

I was in the stands, cheering on our amazing swimmers as they powered to gold again and again.

I was there when our equestrian team won gold for the three-day event.

And I was there when shooter Michael Diamond won gold again for Australia.

Hosting the Olympics has certainly boosted Australia's international profile... As a great sporting nation... As a great tourism destination... And as a country with the capacity to host world-class sporting events.

We've shown the world what Australia can do. And perhaps just as importantly, we've shown Australia what Australia can do.

The truly dazzling Olympic opening ceremony won rave reviews around the world.

The New York Post called it a "surreal extravaganza that underscored Sydney's claim for recognition as one of the great cities of the world".

And the London Sunday Telegraph called it an "unqualified success, embodying the life and soul of the host nation".

These Games have not only been the most televised and watched Olympics to date, but also the most watched event in history.

I mentioned before that nearly four billion people around the globe followed the Olympics on TV.

The world has also logged on to Australia. The official Games website www.olympics.com received over 11 billion hits during the Games.

And the Australian Tourist Commission's new website, Australia.com has delivered around seven million pages. That's equivalent to delivering seven million travel brochures around the world.

That media coverage is worth billions of dollars.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage that interest in Australia into tourism and investment dollars.

And we're making the most of this opportunity.

Well before the Games began, the Australian Tourist Commission launched an ambitious four-year program to maximise the tourism potential of Australia as the Olympic host.

Led by the ATC, this promotional and media relations campaign includes Tourism New South Wales, the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other state and territory tourism bodies.

This is the world's biggest-ever media program.

The IOC has hailed it as a role model for future Olympic host countries. Michael Payne, the IOC's Director of Marketing, told a Sydney news conference:

"It's great to see the tourist industry fully taking advantage of the opportunity of hosting the Olympic Games. It's something that we have never seen take place to this level before."

Just to give you a taste of how well this campaign is working, ATC promotions in conjunction with Olympics sponsors have generated an additional $160 million worth of publicity for Australia in the last two years.

And the ATC's visiting journalists program, where writers and broadcasters are invited to visit Australia, has increased ten-fold since the 1993 announcement that Australia would host the Games. This program has generated almost $2.3 billion worth of

publicity in the past two years.

But we're not resting on our laurels. When the Olympic flame went out at Homebush, work had already begun on converting the unprecedented international interest in Australia into actual visitor arrivals.

The ATC has just launched a massive global post-Olympic marketing strategy.

The strategy includes over 90 joint tactical advertising campaigns promoting holiday deals. These campaigns involve over 200 industry partners and are worth over $45 million.

These advertising campaigns will be supported by an aggressive $6 million Internet strategy.

As well, the ATC will carry out research on how the Olympic exposure has shifted Australia's international image. And they will continue to build on the lucrative meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition sector.

This strategy will play a vital role in increasing international visitors to Australia by ten per cent next year to a record five million visitors.

As well as working hard to market Australia as a tourism destination, we have also been busy promoting Australia as an investment destination.

For example, during the Olympics, IBM hosted a series of dinners for the visiting CEOs of global corporations.

Speakers included the Prime Minister and myself. We both took the opportunity to remind our overseas visitors that Australia is a great place to live, to work - and to invest.

I also addressed three networking sessions for potential Australian and international investors hosted by my portfolio and Australia Sport International. These sessions highlighted Australia's expertise in organising major events, and in designing, constructing and managing sports facilities.

The Olympics have left us with much more than an impressive medal haul and some wonderful memories.

We now have a pool of experienced professionals who excel in planning and managing major sporting events.

Our Government agencies and the private sector have forged new ways of working together.

And we have a great legacy of world-class sporting facilities - not just in Homebush, but throughout Australia.

Far from being white elephants, these facilities are great investments.

Now it's up to sporting organisations, and state and territory events corporations, to organise the events which will maintain these facilities for all Australians to use.

Our sporting facilities certainly impressed our Olympic visitors. In fact, a few days ago, the president of the world soccer organisation FIFA, praised the smooth running of our Olympic soccer competitions, and said we had most of the infrastructure in place to host a future World Cup.

Of course, hosting an Olympics is a rare opportunity for a country. And most sports tourism isn't focused on Olympic-size events. There are many other types of sporting events with great potential for sports tourism.

For example, national, regional and local sports that occur on a regular basis - especially outside major metropolitan areas - can also be marketed as great tourism events.

Regional sporting carnivals are often the lifeblood of regional tourism. Events like these can also be planned to level out the seasonal peaks and troughs in rural and regional tourism.

These events may not get the same level of publicity as the Olympics. But they are an untapped source of tourist dollars.

We need to see sports tourism as a new and profitable niche market - and a great opportunity to capitalise on the economic power of sport.

And we need to see sports tourism as an emerging industry. Once the various players start thinking of themselves as members of the sports tourism industry, new alliances will form.

For example, Sports Tropical North Queensland, a "cluster" under the umbrella of the local Regional Economic Development Corporation, was formed after we ran a focus group there in June this year. This was the first time many of these people -representing both sports and tourism - had got together. Then they realised they had strong common interests in developing sports tourism in their region.

This is just one example of the type of networks which could be set up.

I know all of you here today understand the great potential of sports tourism - and many of you have been involved in sports tourism for years.

Dr Joseph Kurtzman, who will be speaking to you next, was instrumental in the development of the Sports Tourism International Council - a professional organisation committed to the development of sports tourism.

Another of our international speakers, Dr Lisa Delpy Neirotti is

especially well-versed on the impacts of Olympic Games. The outcomes of the special Olympics session this afternoon are something that, given the timing, I'm very interested in.

In fact, I see this Symposium as a focal point for the development of a strong sports tourism research base, especially within Australia.

Building on this research base, we also need to have a planned national approach to maximise the benefits of sports tourism development.

There's a lot of expertise in both the sports and tourism sectors, and we need to bring that together - to work together.

To be successful, we need to strengthen relationships within the industries, as well as strengthen relationships between the industries, governments and the research community.

It's all about partnerships and networks.

This is something that my portfolio has been working on this year -bringing people together to work on developing a National Sports Tourism Strategy.

So I'm pleased today to be able to release a draft National Sports Tourism Strategy.

I won't tell you too much about the draft Strategy, as you'll hear more about it tomorrow from David Mazitelli, the Deputy Secretary of ISR.

But I will say that we're very lucky to have such a wealth of sports tourism knowledge in this room, and I'm very keen to receive your constructive feedback on the draft.

I would also like to congratulate Brent Ritchie and the rest of the team for taking the initiative and pulling this Symposium together. I know that I'm not the only one who'll be eagerly awaiting the outcomes and proceedings of "Sport Generated Tourism -Exploring the Nexus".

Thank you.

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