Interview on ABC Adelaide Drive with Ian Henschke

9 February 2015

Interview on ABC Adelaide Drive with Ian Henschke

Topics: National tourism awards,

HOST: (Talking about SA's results at national tourism awards) I'm afraid we didn't do too well. I mean it's a bit like Montreal at the Olympics. Are we going to have to set up a special independent inquiry into why we didn't do so well in the tourism awards, or are these awards shared around from one year to the next?

To tell us a bit more we're joined by the Minister for Tourism, Senator Richard Colbeck. Good afternoon.

COLBECK: Afternoon, Ian.

HOST: Now, these awards are very prestigious aren't they? Or are they shared around?

COLBECK: They would in my opinion be very prestigious. It's the tourism industry's night of nights.

It's very, very hotly contested by tourism businesses from all over the country that put their hearts and souls into their businesses and so it was a pretty spectacular night.

A lot of great businesses were there from all states. And remembering that each of the finalists were winners in their own state tourism awards process. So a big night with the best of the best from all over the country.

HOST: And which state are you from, Senator?

COLBECK: My home state is Tasmania, Ian.

HOST: Ah, well you'd be very, very pleased with the result for Tasmania because if I was in Tasmania then I'd be saying gee we did pretty well. I think the best tourism award right up the top of the list, was the Bruny Island Tours.

COLBECK: Yeah well Bruny Island has been pretty successful over a number of years and they offer a great product. But look it was a pretty good night all round I thought.

Victoria did very well, they won 10 gold awards and sitting opposite the Victorian Tourism Minister there was a little bit of eye competition as the night went on. But, as Federal Minister I have to be prepared to share the love around, so to speak.

HOST: But South Australia didn't get one gold.

COLBECK: They didn't, no. They won five awards across the 26 categories. So they won one silver and four bronze.

The Frames, I think is down at Renmark, they won silver. Also Yondah Beach House, Calypso Star Charters, The Playford and the Barossa Visitor Centre also won awards as well.

HOST: I think it was four. It's four out of 26 - but there were 26 categories and each category had three medals.

COLBECK: That's correct.

HOST: So if you look at that you're looking at 78 medals and we got four which is punching well below our weight. If it was the Olympic Games you'd be saying hang on we've got to lift our game.

COLBECK: Five awards from South Australia - one silver and four bronze. Look, I would just urge South Australian businesses to participate in the process. Have a chat to your colleagues in other states about your entry and the process there.

It is a special night and it is about celebrating the tourism industry across Australia and that's effectively what it's about.

It's run by an independent organisation that has judges from each state and then three independent judges on the back of that, so no involvement from government even though a couple of us were questioned as the night went on - in jest of course but very competitive.

And as I said, business operators that put their heart and soul into their businesses.

HOST: These awards I imagine are great to be able to put on a brochure, that you've won the best for example the best adventure tourism, or if you're talking about these awards. So that when people are looking when they come from another country, they say well this is the place I should go to. They would carry a lot of weight.

COLBECK: There is no question that businesses use them for marketing, in fact I think that was a comment made by a couple of winners when they got up on the stage to accept their awards on Friday night. They said that they were going to market extensively around the fact that they had been successful in that award in a national competition.

But by the same token, each of those that were there on Friday night were award winners in their state so they still have the capacity to market that as far as their particular business goes. Within South Australia for example they are the best in the state. So they can market that.

There is still a dividend out of that for each of the businesses that were there.

HOST: One of our texters says perhaps in regards to Kangaroo Island the ferry cost has to be reduced or introduce a competitor - says Christine.

Now this is very interesting because I did have a holiday in your beautiful state of Tasmania, Senator Richard Colbeck here on Drive, and I went to Bruny Island and it was a very cheap trip. I think it was a return trip of less than $30, something around the $30 mark. So $15 each way to take the car across.

COLBECK: Well you're right Bruny Island is a pretty special part of Tassie and I think that's part of the network that's run in Tasmania by the State Government. I don't recall what the fare was last time I was there which was about 2 years ago I think.

But look, there are a whole range of inputs but this is about the particular businesses themselves and if you look at Kangaroo Island, the Southern Ocean Lodge for example was featured as part of our new international campaign marketing aquatic and coastal features of Australia.

There are in fact four locations out of South Australia that feature in that campaign so there's plenty to see and plenty of attributes that are of real value in South Australia for any international tourist or Australian for that matter.

HOST: Would the federal Government assist the State Government in making it a bit cheaper? Because this is the purpose of the text from Christine saying it's so expensive to get over there and you've got people coming from other parts of the world and quite often the only place they want to go is Kangaroo Island, the name seems to attract them. Is it possible that you could assist in some way the running of that ferry or not?

COLBECK: Ah, look...

HOST: Do you get a subsidised ferry to Tasmania from the mainland? I believe you do don't you?

COLBECK: We do from the mainland. We don't from Tassie to Bruny Island for example. So I suppose it depends on how you look at it.

We see it as part of our national highway contribution to Tassie. Given that it's within the state, the Bruny Island ferry I think might be supported by the Tasmanian Government but not by the Federal Government.

HOST: So Kangaroo Island would effectively be better if it succeeded from the mainland and declared itself an independent state.

COLBECK: Well, I mean there's an option from a number of perspectives. They could even use that as a marketing option.

HOST: Look can you just give us the latest on the figures, because with the downturn in the Chinese economy I imagine a lot of people are worrying about how many people are still coming to Australia? Are we seeing a downturn in tourism figures or not?

COLBECK: Quite the opposite in fact and the projections for the tourism industry are quite strong as well. From China for example we've just earlier this year welcomed our one millionth visitor.

That's very strong growth of I think at about 13 per cent off last year and we expect that to continue to grow. There were 120 million Chinese people who had an international tourism experience last year. That's expected to be about 200 million by 2020. So that market we see as continuing to grow.

Tourism is regarded as one of the five key growth sectors of the economy growing at a projected 4.1 per cent per annum year on year. So that's one of the areas that we're concentrating on to ensure economic growth across the country and a particular focus is being placed on that sector because it's a strong growth one.

HOST: I'm talking to Senator Richard Colbeck, the Federal Minister for Tourism. You must be pretty proud of Tasmania though, because when I was down there I just couldn't believe the number of international people there.

When I went there for m honeymoon almost 20 years ago it was a bit of a sleepy place I'd have to say back then. It was lovely but it didn't have the same buzz it has now.

COLBECK: Well look, I mean Tassie has had a bit of a turnaround in recent years and we're obviously excited about that at home and its tourism offering is really strong.

There's new and fresh things that have come into the market that have made a difference but there's a lot of tourism operators that have done the hard yards over a lot of years and now seeing the dividends which is fantastic.

What we'd like to ensure from the Commonwealth perspective is that we can ensure the growth in the tourism sector is even across the country. It hasn't been as even as it could be, it's been very strong down the East Coast but the Northern Territory, South Australia, and the West haven't grown at the same rate as the rest of the country. They're some of the things we're looking at in a broader policy context.

HOST: Can I just raise that wit you before we go to news because there are people who say that the South East of South Australia, Mt Gambia and that area, is also a beautiful area. Is it possible that you could have an opportunity to link Tasmania, the South East of South Australia and Adelaide on an air route of some form? More direct flights? Is that something the Federal Government could organise?

COLBECK: There have previously been some linkages in that space but for example I've had a talk to Leon Bignell the South Australian Minister and the Minister in Victoria about promoting a drive between South Australia and Melbourne utilising the huge asset which is the Great Ocean Road and the South East assets through Robe and places like that and cooperate together to build something that already attracts a lot of people but building a broader experience.

There are new international airline flights coming into South Australia this year, so that builds connectivity which we also understand is important to the growth of the sector.

So trying to promote some cooperative approaches across government to build the sector and therefore attract investment into infrastructure which is also very important.

We've been working at a national and international level at attracting investment into infrastructure which will also draw tourism numbers and growth for jobs into local economies.

HOST: I tell you what, when you were down in Tasmania and it was 26/27 degrees it's a great place to beat the heat. That would be my way of saying avoid the 40 degree days and head to Tassie. I suppose Mt Gambia and those areas are much like that as well.

COLBECK: We have had quite a bit of reaction at home in Tassie of people coming down on those relatively hot days.

It is a place to go to escape the heat but you know, Great Ocean Road is one Australia's terrific tourism drives and I think that there's an opportunity to build some capacity down through that region, through Robe.

HOST: And a big spin off for South Australia with that as well. That's at terrific idea.

Keep us posted on that one and thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Senator Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Tourism.

ENDS.

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