Address to Tasmanian Tourism Industry Conference, Launceston

12 May 2016






Thanks very much for being here, it is actually fantastic to be here and a real privilege to be here as the Federal Tourism Minister. I hate to use the word exciting again; but it is.

Can I also acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues and my local government colleagues, the Mayor, Albert Van Zetten, great to be here on your patch, the Premier and fellow Tourism Minister (Will Hodgman).

It is a good leadership sign that Will is showing here in Tasmania in the context of intake in the portfolio and I notice Western Australia is copying him now, so the mood spreads.

You're announcement a moment ago around your one brand for marketing Tasmania internationally and globally, I think is also an example of Australia could follow. So, congratulations again in relation to leadership.

Also your approach to National Parks, I think what you're doing in National Parks I've had conversations with my colleague Environment Minister Hunt about that because I think it's something we could learn from and the activity that was generated for this sector in Tasmania I think is also an example.

To Roger and Sarah, my good friend and colleague Andrew Nikolic, the fierce Member for Bass. And to Jono Duniam (inaudible) and to Kerry Finch, Rosemary Armitage and Mike Gaffney MLC, it's good to see you all here. And of course Scott Bacon, it's always good to get a separate mention, Scott. It is a unity ticket in the context of tourism.

It is an important part of our economy - in fact tourism nationally has been identified as one of the five key super growth sectors of the Australian economy. It's projected to have a growth rate of 4.1 per cent per annum over the next decade and even though the country's doing really well with a three per cent growth rate at the moment, that still is ahead of the rest and so it will continue to play an important part in our national economy and we all know how important a role it plays here in Tasmania given that it's nine per cent of our GDP.

A really important part of the national economy and it's going to continue to grow.

One of the really exciting things that I got the opportunity to do at Australia Week in China a couple of weeks ago was to sign an agreement with China to designate 2017 as the Year of Tourism between Australia and China. We know that 120 million Chinese took an international holiday last year - that is projected to be 200 million by 2020. So there is growth coming and we need to be prepared for it, and the comments that the Premier made a few moments ago about meeting the infrastructure demand for that is significant.

It's not just the Chinese market that's growing; we're seeing strong growth in our other key markets as well, the US continues to grow both in numbers and yield.

I had a fantastic conversation with the Minister for Tourism from Indonesia only last week and they're looking to build links between Indonesia and Australia. We send a million tourists to Bali every year and about 140,000 or 150,000 Indonesians come to Australia. They're looking at partnering with us to provide additional people coming through Indonesia into this country. So that sort of relationship that we have the opportunity to build only shows what the opportunities might be for this sector.

Can I also congratulate Daniel on taking over from Simon, they are enormous shoes to fill and as he said, he is not leaving the board, so the shadow remains, but appropriately. I also want to congratulate Simon on his achievements over many years, but also the strength of his advocacy, I mean we all know and love him dearly but he deserves every accolade that he's been given, congratulations on Life Membership this morning. It's very, very appropriate that you receive that achievement, he actually lobbies for this industry.

At the dinner last night the conversation and story that we heard was almost a story of the history over the last two or three decades. People say to me, when I travel around the country and internationally, they all rush up to tell me their Tasmanian story, they want to be able to connect with this wonderful state in some way - and they ask what is it about Tasmania - what is Tasmania doing?

The first thing I say is look, go down and have a look, let's keep the numbers driving through, but its exemplified by the types of the sectors and the fact that sectors are working so closely together. The fact you have such strong leadership and that leadership has been so passionate about the Tasmanian offering. And, importantly, and I only alluded to it a moment ago, it's the consistent message that's been built over time and its about quality and it's about experience. That's the thing that Tasmania has to offer.

I've seen and watched that offering evolve over recent years and it's about hearts and souls. I know that people in this room put their hearts and souls into their business like Simon has done in his businesses over the years - it's about emotions. You are about capturing emotion - people going home and talking about that emotion and saying to others this is a great place to go and you ought to go there as well.

To the extent that when I was in the US I was told that experience is the new star rating. Experience is one thing we really have in this state in spades. So that's why I think we're doing so well and that's why we're the flavour of the month nationally, and internationally, and why people are asking me what is going on down here.

But we can't be complacent about it as the Premier said. We need to continue to improve the offering, we need to continue to make sure that experience lives up to expectations and we need to ensure that we remain a warm and welcoming state environment for our visitors.

Last week in the budget we confirmed record spending for Tourism Australia, we maintained the freeze on the Passenger Movement Charge, we're also working on improving clearances for international travel for those high end, high yield travellers coming through our airports - providing them with the level of expectation and the level of service that they've come to expect.

We're also working very closely with my colleague the Minister for Immigration around visas and visa processes. We're working on a 10 year multi visit visa for China, a three year multi entry visa with Indonesia which has been very well received. We are also seeing other countries doing a lot of work with their visas. The Indonesians are very, very innovative in their work that they are doing with their visas and we need to keep an eye on that to make sure that we are competitive so that at no point in the decision making stage when a person is looking to decide where they might travel that it doesn't come to be an inhibitor. It's important we maintain our competiveness in all of those areas.

Can I just say in relation to Cradle, because I know you're going have a discussion around that over the day and I had many discussions last night and this morning. Like the Premier, I see that as a really important project for Tasmania, not just for the North-West Coast, I think it's an icon for the state and we need to make sure that we, as I said a moment ago, ensure that our presence is up to expectations.

I think it's a fantastic concept that's been developed by the Cradle Coast Authority, it really is. It's going to take investment from Commonwealth, it's going to take investment from the State and it's going to take some significant investment from the private sector.

I've already started the process of working through Austrade with the people that we have in that sector, of seeing whether we can find an investor who would be prepared to come in and provide the significant amount of money that is going to be required for that project.

We have two streams; we have investment specialists, we have five investment specialists, that work around the globe talking to people who are looking to invest, in any area, into the Australian economy. So we've started the work to put the project through that process.

We also have a major project facilitation unit and that's got five projects on its books at the moment and if you look at the work that it did with the Pacificus project up in Queensland, a hugely sensitive environmental area, brought about a design and approval that will actually provide effective environmental outcome - a huge success for the proponent of the project, for the environment, but also for Australia's tourism industry and its offering.

So I will continue to work on that process and I think that by working together better we've got real opportunities to continue to improve the offering at Cradle Mountain and I'm hoping to put on record my pledge to continue to work on that process - it's really important.

One of the things I think we need to also recognise, and I mentioned investment, we have as a country our tourism marketing agency Tourism Australia. When I first came to the portfolio I turned up to a meeting in Canberra and asked Tourism Australia to do one thing - I wanted them to be the best marketing agency, marketing the best tourism destination on the planet.

Now they changed their look a bit when they said they the most desirable, and I'm cool with that because I think it is the most desirable tourism destination on the planet. But they are doing some world leading things in their marketing of this country. Their Restaurant Australia campaign had a real effect in changing the perception of where we sat in respect of our food and wine, lifting our ranking from 10th in the world in perception to 6th - and we all see Tasmania's part in that Restaurant Australia campaign is well remembered.

The launch of the Coastal and Aquatic campaign in the US in January and again in China only three weeks ago, again its marketing to one of our strengths and the Premier alluded to that. The fact that the Three Capes Track is one of the key destinations shown in that campaign demonstrates the value and quality of the tourism offering that we have here in Australia.

I would urge you as operators to participate in Tourism Australia's campaign - there is capacity for you to do that so talk to John and his people about how you might put your business and your tourism offering into that international campaign.

Also, the technology that they're using goes to the theme of what we talk about today - their virtual reality pieces really do immerse you into a tourism experience. As John can tell you, it's been offered to agents and the key Asian partners around the world. But also some of their online aps and facilities as well provide a really leading edge way to promote this country internationally and they are leading the world. So I think we can be very proud of the work that Tourism Australia is doing, I certainly am, and it's a real pleasure to have John here today.

So thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and it is very exciting to be the Tourism Minister from the best tourism state in the country and please take the opportunity to welcome John O'Sullivan.


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