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Hockey says Canberra is an energetic tourist centre.



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10 March, 2004

HOCKEY SAYS CANBERRA IS AN ENERGETIC TOURIST CENTRE

Australians should reconsider their perceptions of Canberra and see it as a major tourist centre driven by an energetic small business sector rather than as just a centre of administration and public servants, the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Joe Hockey said today.

Speaking at the Canberra Balloon Fiesta, Mr Hockey said tourism was one of the most important and dynamic industries in the ACT. It is important that small businesses such as tourism operators are not be inhibited by additional costs and regulation, such as the plans of former ACT Labor Leader, Wayne Berry, for Labor to introduce a 2.5% payroll tax to fund his portability of long service leave.

“Canberra is in a unique position as a tourist destination of national and international significance. It showcases world-class tourism infrastructure as well as national and natural attractions, and a range of special interest tourism products and services,” Mr Hockey said.

“Canberra has the capacity to host many diverse events, from the Balloon Fiesta, to Floriade, to the Summernats, to special Australia Day celebrations, and many more.”

“It is time to put paid to the notion that Canberra is full of politicians and public servants,” Mr Hockey said.

“For some time now, the private sector in Canberra has been larger than the public sector.”

“In fact, within the Canberra private sector there are around 20,000 small businesses employing close to 53,000 people. Tourism employs 14,000 people - making tourism the largest private sector employer in the Territory,” Mr Hockey said.

“The September quarter 2003 National Visitor Survey, released by the Bureau of Tourism Research, showed a 19% increase in the number of overnight visitors to the ACT, against a 5% decline nationally.”

Mr Hockey said Canberra was uniquely placed to deliver niche market tourism experiences to Australia and overseas.

“The recent Tourism White Paper recognises the development of niche markets as a high priority. The new body, Tourism Australia, will brand and promote Australia as a Platinum Plus product,” Mr Hockey said.

Media enquiries: Bob Lawrence 0428 280 222