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National Tourism Strategy launch: speech at the Tourism Transport Forum Outlook Conference.



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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism

TOURISM TRANSPORT FORUM: National Tourism Strategy launch

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Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today, and I congratulate TTF on the Outlook Conference.

Already this morning you have discussed the future of tourism and the outlook for the global industry. They

are debates that that the tourism industry needs to have.

The future of tourism is a discussion that examines the expectations and impending opportunities that are

presented to us as a nation. It is also a discussion fundamentally underpinned by economics.

The overall contribution of tourism to the Australian economy is immense.

Tourism generates over $38 billion in GDP and more than 482,000 Australians directly rely on tourism for their

livelihoods.

Tourism provides more jobs for working Australians than agriculture, forestry and fishing combined.

For too long the economic significance of tourism has not been effectively communicated and debate has

been eclipsed by marketing issues.

The creation of tourism demand and the subsequent marketing of Australia as a destination are important

aspects of any tourism debate but they are only part of the conversation that needs to be had.

It is pointless to create future demand if Australia's tourism industry does not have the productive capacity to

meet even its current market demands.

Supply side issues such as: investment, labour and skills, climate change, research and infrastructure must be given a heightened importance in the debate over the future of tourism if we, as a Government in

partnership with you the industry are to ensure that tourism in Australia is competitive both domestically and

globally.

This is why today, as the still relatively new Tourism Minister, I am pleased to be able to address you here

today and outline the Rudd Labor Government's commitment to an innovative paradigm shift in how the

industry and government can engage better in tourism.

The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

08 May 2008

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It is a tactical approach that not only has a critical discussion about the future of tourism but equips the

industry with a way forward to enable the industry to grasp its future potential growth.

It is a way forward that is durable, centred on longevity and sustainability and is robust enough to transcend

political cycles.

Tourism is not a political football. It is a key economic driver of this nation and an industry that provides

important employment and career opportunities to working Australians.

It provides a respectable and fulfilling career opportunity not just for the traditional workforce of young people,

but also increasingly and at the encouragement of the Rudd Labor Government, mature-age workers and

indigenous communities.

In all my years as the Shadow Minister for Tourism I sought to rise above political debates that denigrated the

tourism industry and subsequently the huge contribution this industry makes to our national economy.

I gave bi-partisan support to a magnitude of tourism initiatives because I firmly believe that efforts to

strengthen our tourism industry makes good economic sense for Australia.

It’s plain to see that tourism helps drive the Australian economy.

Your massive contribution to our nation's prosperity is recognised by the Rudd Government and is the key

reason behind the elevation of tourism to its rightful place at the Cabinet table.

But that is only the start of a new way forward to securing the future sustainability of tourism in Australia under

the Rudd Labor Government.

Like you, I have seen the recent research - the outlook for the industry is marked by significant challenges.

Our international competitiveness is under pressure from a rising Australian dollar which has made competing

locations more attractive.

We also face a weaker global economic outlook and discretionary spending items such as tourism can expect

to be a casualty of reduced spending.

Domestic tourism is also under fire from the strong Australian dollar which makes international competing

locations more attractive than a holiday in Australia.

This is confirmed in the latest data from Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey and

National Visitor Survey released in April.

This has occurred at the same time as low-cost carriers have shrunk the world further and opened up more

travel options than ever before.

These are the realities of the challenges we face.

At the same time, there is good news for the industry, especially if you pursue new markets, notably in China

and India.

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By 2016, China is expected to be our biggest tourism market. This is our expectation but it’s not a reality yet -

we have to work for it.

In this ultra-competitive environment, it is also important that we build on our competitive advantage - those

elements of the Australian experience that are uniquely Australian in order to maximise the net economic

benefit of tourism to the Australian economy.

Fortunately, these issues are not new to any of you and I am aware that the industry has already begun to

think about how these opportunities might be realised and how some of the key challenges might be

addressed.

I particularly would like to thank the TTF for the well researched and thought-out policy ideas you have

already put to me in Project X, and which I believe was discussed earlier today.

Your input, along with that of the hundreds of tourism operators that my Department has spoken to over the

past six months in Government, and before that in Opposition, have led me to conclude that we need to take

a fresh approach.

I recently wrote to the Prime Minister outlining my intention to develop a new National Long-term Tourism

Strategy.

It is a strategy that sets out the long-term visions for the tourism industry but also set short-term measurable

outcomes.

Both the long-term vision and the short-term goals will be informed by an economic framework which

recognises the broader macro-economic environment that provides the baseline from which the industry

operates.

As you know only too well, tourism as an industry is highly susceptible to global shocks as seen with the

SARS outbreak, the war on terrorism, 9/11 and the Bali bombings and domestically through the collapse of

Ansett and changing consumer trends.

Tourism will always be subject to variables beyond its control which is why sustainability is key.

Industry ownership is just as critical which is why in announcing the Rudd Labor Government's intention to

develop a National Long-term Tourism Strategy I invite the industry to take ownership of its own future.

Tourism is a multi-faceted industry and now is the time for the many diverse sectors to come together under a

unified framework to recognise and support the industry's potential:

The National Long-term Tourism Strategy provides you with that opportunity - the opportunity for tourism as

an economic industry to design its industry future.

É A tactical approach forward that addresses investment barriers and raises the investment rate for the tourism industry so that it is commensurate with other industry sectors.

É A targeted focus on access to and retention of labour resources in acknowledging the broader

macro-economic conditions influencing the availability of labour to all industries, including tourism.

Also importantly, a focus that has the foresight to develop career paths that encourages entry into the

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industry as a sustainable employment option.

É An enhancement of productivity through innovation and the identification of infrastructure requirements and opportunities that facilitate investment and reflect the industry's economic needs

and contribution.

É A means through which the industry understands its vulnerabilities to climate change but also the business case for addressing its exposure in this area and facilitates an adaptive response.

É Inadequate information is frequently cited as a barrier to future growth - we need to not only continue the provision of accurate research and statistics but outline a research agenda that underpins the

core objectives of a national strategy and provides for sound business decision making.

These and many more issues need to be addressed through the strategy and the industry needs to be broad-thinking and constructive in its input as it is developed over the next 12 months.

Close consultation with the tourism industry and all levels of Government will be critical and shortly I will

establish a Steering Committee to facilitate the strategy's commencement.

Members of the Steering Committee will include senior representatives from the tourism industry but it is also

necessary to engage stakeholders who represent areas traditionally not connected with tourism.

The Steering Committee members will be chosen on the basis of the expertise and ideas they bring to the

table and their capacity to mould these ideas into a coherent long-term vision for the industry.

We will do this to ensure a more coordinated approach to tourism policy development, based on common

goals, because we are working to achieve outcomes that have broad stakeholder support.

The overarching policy objective is to maximise the net economic benefits of tourism to the Australian

economy, by capitalising on the sort of opportunities I have already mentioned.

Let me be clear at the outset: the Strategy will not be about throwing money at issues or buying the support of

the industry.

Tourism as an economic industry will need to formulate policy on the basis of a rigorous economic and

industry policy framework.

I am excited by the opportunity that the development of the National Long-term Tourism Strategy offers,

particularly to establish a planning framework which transcends the usual constraints of the political cycle

because any industry’s viability and success should not rely on the whim of a Minister.

What we need - and what I will deliver - is a framework which addresses more than tourism marketing.

I encourage the tourism industry to see this as a real opportunity to participate and contribute to the

establishment of a strategy which will assist the tourism industry realise its full potential.

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