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The future of tourism in Australia: speech to the Australian Tourism Export Council, Newcastle.

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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism


Speech to the Australian Tourism Export Council


Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for your time this morning.

It's a pleasure to be here at ATEC, and I congratulate ATEC on bringing this symposium to the great city of Newcastle.

Along with the privilege of being the Tourism Minister, I also hold the Cabinet portfolios of Resources and Energy and through both of these roles I know the city of Newcastle well.

People often ask me why resources and tourism were put together as initially it seems like a strange mix but in reality there is a lot of overlap.

The issues of skills and labour are critical to the future development of both industries. Japan and Korea have traditionally been key export markets for both in-bound tourists and our mining exports and now we are seeing increasing numbers of Chinese and Indian tourists to our shores at the same as the mining carriers take our coal from here in Port Waratah to these same destinations.

And like resources, tourism is a vital driver of economic growth throughout Australia, in rural and regional Australia especially, but also in regional centres such as Newcastle.

Last year, tourism was worth more than $1.34 billion to the Hunter region.

Bringing such a large event to regional centres is a great initiative.

Last year you were in the Tweed, before that Cairns and before that Alice Springs.

ATEC is to be applauded for spreading the tourism dollar through the regions.

ATEC is also to be applauded for its outward focus.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that tourism is not only an export industry, but also that it is our largest service export industry, worth more than $22 billion in exports, an increase of 6.8 per cent on 2006.

We expect this export total will reach $35 billion a year by 2016.

Thanks to the effort of groups like ATEC which have worked hard to create new markets overseas,

The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

The H

on Martin Ferguson AM MP

01 May 2008

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international visitor numbers hit 5.6 million last year, a rise of 2 per cent.

However, Tourism Research Australia's interim measure for tourism exports indicates that Total Inbound Economic value increased by only 5.5 per cent in the second half of 2007, with international visitor arrivals increasing only marginally.

Last year we reported a tourism trade surplus but this has shrunk considerably and may even return to deficit.

This makes the work of ATEC members all the more important, and I would like to draw attention to the work recently undertaken by an ATEC member, the Melbourne Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

On April 14, I was please to welcome 1700 of Amway Greater China's top sales staff to Australia. This was the first of four tranches of incentive recipients from Amway Greater China with a total of 7000 visiting Australia as part of the event.

Business events such as this are hotly contested around the world and was only successfully won after months of negotiation through a strategic partnership between the Bureau and Tourism Australia

China is expected to be the next big tourism wave.

Last year the Chinese market grew by 16 per cent, assisted by targeted marketing by Tourism Australia.

Growth in the Indian market is also impressive, and Tourism Australia will soon open an office in Mumbai to capitalise on this opportunity.

These are the type of activities I expect from Tourism Australia: drawing on Tourism Australia's extensive marketing and in-market knowledge to communicate Australia's tourism message to the most appropriate markets.

I believe they will succeed if they have the resources they need. They certainly have a proven track record.

This is not to say that they will have a free rein - and there will be appropriate accountability - but they now have a Minister who supports their work and will give them the freedom they need … And about time, too.

So I will not be leading Tourism Australia by the hand - they're the experts and I trust them to take Australia’s tourism message to the world, especially markets like China and India which are both quite new to the Australian marketing message and the Australian tourism experience.

This means we have a great opportunity today to present a fresh face to build the boom markets of tomorrow.

This is one of the reasons I have been such a strong advocate of accreditation.

You only get one chance at a first impression and this is not an opportunity we can afford to miss.

I have been arguing for many years about the benefits of a voluntary accreditation scheme. As Minister, I will introduce it.

2008 will not be a repeat of the accreditation discussions some of you may have been involved in during 2003 and 2004.

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In the past few weeks I have been privileged to meet dozens and dozens of tourism industry leaders around Australia. Small, medium and large tourism business operators in almost every conceivable tourism business have shown support for accreditation - they can see its benefits.

A national, voluntary accreditation scheme will allow small businesses to brand themselves as a quality operator, eager to meet the challenges of discerning customers. It will be a point of difference and offer a sales advantage to accredited businesses.

It will also allow consumers to seek out quality tourism product through accredited tourism operators and create a market that discourages and disadvantages rogue operators.

Rogue operators pose a real threat to our industry and have the potential to seriously damage Australia's fine tourism reputation.

It is a reputation built upon the hard work of the many small to medium-size businesses that define Australia's tourism industry and I will not allow complacency to put that at risk.

National Accreditation will go someway to helping stamp out rogue operators and will send a very clear message to unscrupulous operators that their unlawful activities will not be tolerated in Australia.

Individual tourism operators will benefit, as will the industries which rely on tourism, such as cafes and restaurants because they are direct beneficiaries of tourism growth. They also add to the total tourism experience.

I believe a National Tourism Accreditation Framework will create growth in the sector and give tourists greater confidence to plan and take holidays, an issue I have also been passionate about for many years.

The first of a series of Joint Working Group meetings was this week on Tuesday. It was a productive meeting and I feel confident that following this initial meeting the Working Group will produce a strategy for the development and implementation that helps drive this industry forward.

I expect a paper from the Working Group outlining future directions for accreditation to be presented to the Tourism Ministers Council in July.

Accreditation is happening and I urge you to get on board.

Another issue affecting tourism and one which I urge you to consider closely, is climate change.

The Australian tourism industry faces challenges in a carbon constrained world.

While rising sea levels are long-term concerns, almost certainly beyond immediate impact on the generations in this room, there are significant and pressing short-term concerns related to climate change.

Aviation is a primary concern and the European Union has aviation emissions in its sight.

A price on carbon will increase the cost of aviation - there is no doubt about this.

When you consider that international travel provides around 25 per cent of Australian tourism revenue, and visitors from Europe - more than 1.33 million a year - represent around 24 per cent of that, you begin to see the impact increased aviation costs could have on Australian tourism.

I can't sugar coat this for you: the next few years will be one of adjustment, but we will be working together - and I will be working with you - to make sure the best days of tourism are still ahead of

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