Address to Australian superyacht and marine export conference, Queensland

17 May, 2016

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK

MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION

ADDRESS TO AUSTRALIAN SUPERYACHT AND MARINE EXPORT CONFERENCE

SANCTUARY COVE, QUEENSLAND

Subjects: Tourism Australia, Aquatic and Coastal marketing campaign, super yacht industry,

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

COLBECK:

Good morning everyone and thanks for the invitation to be here. It is great to be here and thanks to those who had a chat to me last night at drinks - I really enjoyed that and it was a good opportunity to get a bit of a feel for some of the things that you were talking about.

Firstly, I'd like to thank the Australian International Marine Export group for their invitation too, so thank you.

In my view, this sector has, as I think you've just seen and heard, the opportunity to really grow and develop around the Australian coastline. You've seen through the video and some of the presentations already the expertise that you all understand we have here in this country around advanced manufacturing, some of the skills that we have in boat manufacture, design and innovation.

With institutions such as the Australian Maritime College and some of the other research organisations that we have around the country, the opportunity for high-end inputs, quality information, innovation and R&D, as was clearly demonstrated in the video really are at the leading edge - we continue to take advantage of that.

In the context of where the industry sits in relation to access to grow the on-water element, there's obviously some work that we can continue to do there. I have to say I've enjoyed the integration that I've had so far with Maryanne and some of your colleagues in the industry in having some conversations around that.

When we look at where we sit in a tourism sense globally, we are at the moment as a country effectively right at the leading edge. We were voted by one of the big US tourism magazines as the destination of the year for this year. When they did their promotion for tourism locations and designated Australia as the (inaudible) country and had a feature on it all through January, they had their highest interactions and reactions to their social media that they'd ever had.

So Australia right now has, I think, a real opportunity to develop and grow and then when you consider what we're doing with our global marketing of this country as an international tourism destination, your sector actually fits quite nicely within that.

We have a sector that's growing at 4.1 per cent and projected to grow at 4.1 per cent year on year over the next decade. So there is going to be strong visitor growth to the country and the opportunity exists to include your sector as a part of that and then take advantage of some of the flow-on effects that come from it.

We did last year attempt to make some changes to our coastal shipping legislation which would have allowed the charter of vessels around the Australian coastline. Just going back to what I said a moment ago about our global market, we are actually marketing Australia based on its coastal and aquatic attributes right now.

So in January this year in New York, Julie Bishop and Chris Hemsworth launched Australia's Aquatic and Coastal Campaign that features destinations around this country from the Barrier Reef in the East, Ningaloo in the West, the North-West of Australia and the coastline up there right down through the Three Capes Track in Tassie - and everything in between - are the key features of Australia's tourism marketing campaign right now.

That's demonstrated in the video that you've just seen as an opportunity to continue to grow our industry and in focussing our marketing in that sense, we are actually focusing on one of our recognised global strengths. So when you look at the perceptions of the country internationally, our coastal and aquatic attributes are regarded as one of our strengths. So that's why we're marketing to that strength.

The previous part of our 'There's Nothing Like Australia' campaign, which is the overarching campaign that we run, also includes our premium food and beverages. Now, our focus in that campaign was to do with the perception gap where people when they arrived here found that the food and beverage offering was much better than they perceived it to be before they arrived.

That campaign has actually already had a significant impact and we've measured that where we were previously ranked at number 10 in the world and we're now ranked at number 6 in the world with respect of people's perception of our quality of food and beverage offering that's here in this country.

So our marketing agency is marketing, Tourism Australia, is marketing this country to its strengths and those strengths align very closely with your industry.

Obviously the manufacturing sector will be an input into that process. But in my mind, there is the opportunity to take advantage of that growth in the number of vessels that are being bought on an annual basis, and if we're talking about going from 5,500 vessels globally now to about 8,000 in 20 years, that is a steady growth I suppose you'd call it but there is a very, very small interaction with those vessels to the Australian coastline.

Having had the opportunity to visit one of those recently to talk to the crew in particular about what their owners were looking for, what the experience was, in my mind I think there's continued work that we can do together to develop that industry, particularly with respect to access around the Australian coastline and possibly opening up for charter.

Because when you go to those issues of recouping costs, and it is an expensive sector, it does take a lot of investment to afford these types of vessels and the capacity to recoup some of those costs, if that's what you want to do as an owner, obviously is a consideration for you.

So opening up the opportunity for others to have that sort of experience around the Australian coastline I think that provides something for this sector, but also something particular for the communities that those vessels will interact with.

So having had some idea given to me of the provision of values, the way that the vessels are provisioned, their interactions with local communities, the opportunity to develop berthing facilities but also, as was indicated in the video, the opportunity to develop a maintenance and upgrade type sector here and to continue to build that sector here in this country where we do have really high level skills, is one that we need to think about.

Can I say to you, one thing that struck me during the opening presentations was comments around how connected the industry is through its supply chains and the one thing that I made notes on when the presentations were being made, was to ensure that you deal with your issues.

This is a sector that obviously has value to the Australian tourism industry and the visitor economy - my job is to build and grow that. So I'm extremely keen to continue working with you to do what I can to do that but as governments, our role is to set the conditions and the parameters for you to operate effectively in business and industry and then step back and allow you to get on with it.

So, yes you are a niche industry, you are a high value industry and you have some very particular skills that are valuable to not only this sector but others as well. So, make sure that your issues you deal with, because I can't and I shouldn't. So I urge you to take the advice that you were given in that context this morning.

I think there's real opportunity to grow this sector in this country and I look forward to taking the opportunity to do that too. With access to the Australian coastline, with access to some of the key sites that I know that are extremely special around the Australian coastline, those key attributes that we market to the globe - I think that working through those things there's the opportunity to open up a new sector.

We did have some conversations last night about working cooperatively with some of our ASEAN neighbours too because I think developing this in a regional sense actually adds value to it as well and we do have great cooperation at a regional level on a number of issues in the marine sector. Having been in the fisheries portfolio for a long time before coming to this one, I know some of those very well and that can be useful.

So there is the opportunity to not only open Australia but also talk to our regional ASEAN partners to develop a cruise sector in the area that I think is ripe for development. This part of the world is where the action is right now in the context of tourism growth and development and I think there's an opportunity for your sector to be a part of it.

So I'm happy to take some questions and I thank you again for the opportunity to be here today and I sincerely look forward to the opportunity to continue to interact with you and work to build this sector.

(applause)

QUESTION:

Thanks Minister. I'm Luke McCaul from Abell Marina - we had a discussion last night and I gave you a bit of a heads up to the question I had today.

Tourism Australia's got a Tourism 2020 goal to achieve $115 billion in overnight spend by 2020 - the average spend of domestic overnight visitor for a seven day period is $1512 - we have statistics at our marina that the average spend of a superyacht is between $25,000 to $50,000 per week.

So I've got two parts to my question - how does your department assess the opportunity for elevated, less conventional portfolios to achieve this outcome, especially the superyacht industry as a high yielding low impact?

And how can we work with your department to leverage funding to promote Australia as a premier superyacht destination on a global market? I think our industry view should be investing our money into capability and capacity building to make sure that the experience and the product is A1 when our customers arrive, and I think the state and federal government have a role to play in funding and promoting the destination but also to open up the access to the coast.

MINISTER RICHARD COLBECK:

Well firstly on the target, the target is a range of $115 to $140 billion a year and we are actually on target to meet the bottom end of that. So we've just for the first time in the last lot of statistics, we've just ticked over the trajectory to at least meet the bottom end of that and that's great news.

I think we're comfortably looking to get to that target and it is an ambitious target and you're right to note that it is based on overnight spend and yield out of the sector is something that we're working on given that we know we're a long haul destination for most places. So, that's in an aviation sense.

As I've just indicated to you, I think there is the opportunity to gain additional value by working with this sector to open it up around the Australian coastline and if we got our coastal shipping legislation passed last year that would have made a huge difference around accessibility for this sector, there's no question about that.

I've had some conversations with Minister Chester about that and we are currently going through a consultation process on that coastal shipping legislation now. I'd urge you to engage with that and anything that you're sending into that process send to me as well so that I can deliver it from the internal government angle because I think as I said in my presentation there is a real opportunity to develop something here.

There is also some work that needs to be done probably cooperatively between the state and commonwealth in a broader conversation and I can start that through say Tourism Minister Meeting, around access to some of the sensitive sites.

I know that say in the Whitsundays is an issue for example and I know that having been on Glaze in Melbourne earlier in the year, they had some access issues around the South-West Coast in Tassie. I do understand the rationale behind some of the sensitives of those access issues but also that technology has moved along a long way since some of the regulatory processes were put in place.

In the context of marketing, I actually think we're already doing that. As I said to you in the presentation, we are marketing Australia's coastal and aquatic attributes. So we're talking about the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour, the Three Capes Track which is the South-East of Tasmanian coastline, the far North-West, the West Coast of Australia, the South-West which is absolutely magnificent and virtually unexplored.

So we're actually marketing Australia to the world in a way which actually promotes your sector. The issue that you have at this point in time in the context of particularly the capacity to charter is access. So that's another issue that we've got to deal with which we just talked about.

But as far as just coming here, I think our marketing is actually dealing with some of the key attractors that your clients as builders or owners of superyachts would be attracted to and the point that was made that it's not crowded, there's plenty of space here, although there are some that are heavily in demand obviously, I think you are in a sweet spot if we can deal with some of those access issues.

QUESTION:

Richard, just putting it in context, I understand that 70 yachts have been recorded through your region. If we went from 70 to 100, just to add to the comment about the economic value, 100 yachts cruising the region, or even making this a home port destination for service and industry support, can actually have a quantitative contribution, about a quarter of a billion per annum, from just crew (inaudible).

Do crew get classified as tourists within your numbers? Because a yacht may stay in port for a significant amount of time without guests on board, but do the people coming in to region on board as crew, would they have a tourism contribution to the numbers?

MINISTER RICHARD COLBECK:

Look, I'd have to have a look at the visa classification because there is a specific visa classification as you're aware for crew, and I don't know how it's categorised within the statistics so I'd have to actually have a look at that.

They would be part of our overall visitor economy, so they would be counted in that process, then how the expenditure is allocated is another question. So they would be part of our overall visitor economy statistics because they do come in on a particular visa class. How they get categorised within that, I'd have to check.

QUESTION:

I just thought it makes a big difference to the numbers that super yachts contribute when they're here, but if crew were here on service contracts or (inaudible) contracts or just wintering here for a longer period of time, what they spend personally in the region is significant, as their own personal sort of (inaudible) or play time.

MINISTER RICHARD COLBECK:

Well like I said, so they come in on a particular classification of visa, and so they would be counted in that. How their expenditure within the economy is accounted is another matter, and then the issue of statistics more broadly for the sector is another question, and one of the things that we do find a bit difficult is the scarcity of industry specific data relating to Australia.

I mean, there's good data around some of the other destinations in the world, some of the other locations in the world, but Australia specific data at this point in time is quite difficult.

QUESTION:

Good morning, Roberto (inaudible) from (inaudible) yacht in Monaco. I'm a visitor, so thank you. I was just looking just recently at the (inaudible) Association report about the number of Australians doing cruising, you know, it was an incredible increase from 10 years ago, from about 250,000 people to 1.070million people so they, Australia, are the fourth biggest country that produce passengers for the cruise industry, after the United States, Germany, and the UK.

I believe that part of your good revenue is coming from cruising, and the reason why I think you did this is because in the last probably 10 years a lot of things have been done at a government level to give better access to the coastal trade, especially to all the area along the coast of Australia. So I understand there was (inaudible) for about 5 years for the cruise market and I think why not do the same thing for super yachting in the charter market, because I agree, the destination that you have here are incredible.

If you go to Broome, the Kimberley, north, Arnhem Land, north east way, so if I look at European or American, they would love to come here cruising with super yachts. And probably there would be big charter market to exploit. So I think it's up to you to make sure things change. So it's not only the industry, the industry is ready, we wait for the government. Thank you.

MINISTER RICHARD COLBECK:

You're right about the development of the cruise industry, that's been growing at something like 20 per cent per annum for the last decade, and it's quite extraordinary growth, and talking to them there are a number of additional vessels that are coming in.

We're counter-seasonal to the northern hemisphere, there is a burgeoning industry in the cruise sector particularly in China, and we will see, I think in time, a lot of off-season vessels from the northern hemisphere and China coming down here counter-seasonally, so that's going to continue to grow.

I agree with you, we need to resolve the regulatory inhibitor around access. There's no argument from me. As I said to you, had we passed our coastal shipping legislation last year that could have been largely resolved, but I'd be keen to continue this conversation after the election. As you might know right now all I can do is make you a promise that I will do something if I get re-elected. And that comes in two ways, one the government has to get re-elected and two, I have to get re-elected. So there are a number of sensitivities on both sides here, but I would like to do that.

I think that there's the opportunity for us to sit down and have these conversations as I said to you during my presentation, I recognize the value that this sector can bring to local communities around the Australian coastline, with their interactions with those, with provisioning, with all of the other services they take up, the opportunity to develop the maintenance sector here in Australia, in the southern hemisphere as a base with a recognised industry here in boatbuilding, shipbuilding, that has high skills, high technology and leading edge innovation. So there's a real opportunity to develop and build that.

I can't necessarily help you too much with some of your profit problems, that's a business issue and you need to deal with that, but the accessibility stuff is something I can do. So if I get elected, and if the government gets re-elected, I'm happy to work with you on that. If I get re-elected and the government doesn't we can still talk and I can still pester people from the other side, and I have a bit of reputation for doing that.

So let's continue this conversation because I think that there is some value in it for both of us, from a government perspective, from an Australian community and industry perspective, but also those who are seeking access to the Australian coastline, which we say quite rightly in all our marketing is, there's nothing like Australia.

(ends)

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