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Growth strategies on the agenda as Tourism Ministers meet in Perth

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Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck Minister for Tourism and International Education Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment Senator for Tasmania

M E D I A R E L E A S E 19 February 2016 Growth strategies on the agenda as Tourism Ministers meet in Perth Today in Perth I will be chairing the 68th Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, bringing together Tourism Ministers from state and territory governments, and representatives from New Zealand, to discuss ways in which the industry can continue to grow.

On the agenda are issues that are crucial for helping Australia’s AUD$111 billion a year tourism sector achieve the targets set by the national Tourism 2020 strategy.

These include the importance of regional tourism, visa and aviation access, building the tourism workforce and its skill levels, and building Australia’s Indigenous tourism capacity.

The nexus between international education and tourism, Australia’s top two services export industries, will also be on the agenda, as will be the increasing role of the “shared economy” such as Airbnb and Uber.

Australia’s Tourism 2020 strategy aims to achieve overnight expenditure of between AUD$115 billion and $140 billion by 2020. In 2014-15, total overnight spending reached AUD$88.8 billion so we’re on track.

The tourism industry is thriving but there is no room for complacency - realising our full potential will require challenging reforms and collaboration across all levels of government.

Top of my list is encouraging visitors to travel beyond our major cities to rural and regional Australia and developing a skilled tourism workforce to sustain the growth in the industry.

The tourism sector currently has an estimated 38,000 unfilled vacancies and by 2020 the industry will need 123,000 new workers, which presents a great opportunity for job creation.

Tourism contributes over $100 billion to our economy, or 3 per cent of our GDP and is one of 5 key sectors that will provide economic growth into the next decade. It is also a critical developer of regional Australia; accounting for 14 per cent of the rural economy.

That is why we are taking a collaborative approach to support the tourism industry - working across various federal government portfolios, such as immigration and infrastructure, and also with our state and territory counterparts.

The Federal Government’s aim is to remove inhibitors to growth to help the industry prosper.

I thank the WA Minister for Tourism, Kim Hames, for hosting the meeting in Perth. Western Australia has some of Australia’s most spectacular and diverse natural environments and it’s been a pleasure to experience some of these attractions first hand during my visit.

Media contact: Rachelle Miller 0475 804 886