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Minister to unveil a restructuring proposal for the tourism industry.

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Thursday 5 June 2003

Minister to unveil a restructuring proposal for the tourism industry


ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government will today reveal its plans for Australia's $71 billion-a-year tourism industry. The Tourism Minister, Joe Hockey, is releasing a green paper of proposals designed to focus the industry's marketing and coordination. 


A single agency will be established to coordinate major events around the country and the present 500 tourism regions will be reduced to around 30. 


Our reporter in Canberra, Matt Brown, spoke to Minister, Joe Hockey.  


JOE HOCKEY: What we will be announcing today is a restructuring proposal for the bureaucracy of Australian tourism, and this is something that hasn't happened for 40 years. In fact, there's never been a proposed restructuring of the tourism industry which is now around five per cent of the Australian economy and more than half a million jobs.  


MATT BROWN: How will it be restructured? 


JOE HOCKEY: Well, we'll be focusing on ways to make Australian Government bureaucracy more commercial, to make it more responsive to industry change, but also we'll be calling on the industry to set itself a focus and that focus being that we want to have the best quality tourism product in the world.  


MATT BROWN: I guess everyone wants to be seen as having the best quality product. What's going, what's wrong, for example, with going for high numbers of visitors, with trying to encourage lots of people to come and visit that product?  


JOE HOCKEY: Well, that has been our previous strategy and our sole focus but just as the airlines are no longer talking about the number of passengers they're carrying, rather they talk about the number of flights and how much revenue they're getting from each flight, so too does the Australian tourism industry need to start focussing now on how much money we can get out of international visitors rather than focus on how many international visitors come through the turnstiles.  


MATT BROWN: And what about the various levies there are in the industry? Is there going to be any change to the costs that many operators complain of, in terms of what Government imposes on them? 


JOE HOCKEY: Well, of course we want to get rid of the Ansett levy as soon as practical, and if the union run superannuation fund wouldn't keep challenging through the courts, the liquidators of Ansett on this, then we would have lifted the levy long ago. And the same with the noise levy at Sydney Airport, that's certainly slated to go as quickly as possible.  


But we've got to be realistic here, something like the Ansett levy represents $5 per flight, which is just over one-and-three-quarter pounds sterling, that's not going to be the difference between an English person coming here for a holiday or not coming here for a holiday.  


ELEANOR HALL: Tourism Minister, Joe Hockey, speaking to Matt Brown.