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Address to the Tales from Oz function, New York.

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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism


I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to all of our guests tonight, particularly those of you who write for travel and lifestyle media.

As storytellers, you offer insights into the wonderful experiences offered through travel.

You also play an important part in helping tell the Australian story to American audiences.

We look forward to continuing that partnership into the future because the Australian story is forever changing.

Storytelling itself is an intrinsic part of Australian life.

Australia’s Indigenous cultures are the oldest in the world, dating back more than forty thousand years.

The stories of the Dreaming are part of how Indigenous Australians understand their history and their relationships to each other and the land.

These traditions have continued with European settlement.

As Australians have thought more about who we are and the kind of country we live in, our stories have continued to evolve.

Together, Australian storytellers have helped to forge our national identity, our relationships with each other, and our relationships with the rest of the world.

The great thing about storytelling is how easily and widely stories can be shared.

Many of you will be familiar already with some great Australian storytellers. You will hear more shortly from one of them, who contributed to the story behind Baz Luhrmann’s Australia movie.

When Tourism Australia decided to build a promotional campaign around the Australia movie they saw the potential of taking Australia's story and Australia's images to new audiences.

The resulting advertising campaign is built on how experiencing Australia can transform and renew.

The movie has been a tremendous platform from which to connect with audiences around the world and highlight some of the experiences which Australia offers.

RET Minister > The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

23 Jan 2009

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While millions of people have seen Australia the movie, many hundreds of millions more have heard about Australia the country, through publicity and media coverage.

The Australian Government's support of this campaign underscores our commitment to the US market.

In what is shaping up as a very tough year for tourism internationally, the US remains a key market for Australia.

The US market is Australian tourism's fourth largest.

In the 12 months ending September 2008, there were almost half a million US visitors to Australia; representing more than 8 per cent of our total international visitation.

Australia is committed to growing our market share in the United States.

We are confident about Australia's ability to attract visitors from the US, despite the very difficult economic circumstances we are currently experiencing.

First, the US dollar is going a lot further in Australia than it did 12 months ago, making Australia now much more affordable for American visitors.

Second, we will see a significant increase in the number of airline seats crossing the Pacific during this year.

V Australia will commence new services between Sydney and Los Angeles in February.

Delta Airlines has announced it will start a daily service to Sydney from LA in July.

These new services will help provide more seats, more competition in airfares and services, and more opportunities for Americans to travel to Australia.

The third reason why I am optimistic about Australia’s prospects in the US market is its enduring appeal of the destination for American travellers.

Australia continues to be a highly aspirational destination for many Americans and we think we will be less affected by the current economic circumstances than many other destinations.

Affordability and ease of access are always important considerations when travelling.

So, too, is the quality of what we offer our American visitors.

I am pleased to see that Australia is starting to get more recognition as a sophisticated destination with an increasing range of accommodation and experiences for the discerning traveller.

Australia also offers experiences you can't access anywhere else in the world.

An important part of the Australian tourism experience is the opportunity for visitors to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous culture.

We have been showcasing the Indigenous tourism opportunities as part of our activities in the US during ‘Australia Week’ in Los Angeles and also here in New York.

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You cannot fully understand the Australian story without learning more about our Indigenous cultures.

As I have said - Australia’s indigenous culture is the oldest in the world. The stories of the Dreaming are part of how Indigenous Australians understand their history and their relationships to each other and the land.

Australian Indigenous art has for decades now been highly sought after internationally - not only because of its beauty - but because of its capacity to help others understand a culture so much older and so different from their own.

The opportunity for international visitors to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous culture - its food, its art, and its beliefs - is set to become an increasingly important part of the Australian tourism experience.

Australia now has more than 250 Indigenous tourism experiences providing important employment and training opportunities to Indigenous Australians throughout remote Australia.

I am very pleased to see these enterprises are increasingly owned and operated by Indigenous Australians who are telling their own stories to visitors from around the world.

These are stories which can inspire travellers to discover more about Australia and the opportunities it offers.

I hope the stories you hear tonight, will inspire you to discover more about Australia.

I look forward to seeing you in Australia soon.

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