Topics: Trade, Tourism and Investment Ministers Meeting in Townsville, Funding for tourism infrastructure in the region.

Transcript, E&OE

11 October 2019

Steve Price: Australian Senator Simon Birmingham, he’s giving me a call shortly from the Trade, Tourism and Investment Ministers Meeting. That’s interesting. But he’s a good bloke, and they’re here in our city. In our city without strangers, I was about to say with the big world record last night, so many of those people have lost their homes during the floods, and they were there having a laugh and a smile, being there with their mates and that’s what this city is all about. We are resilient we’re- we are a city without strangers, that sort of says it all. Well here we go, [indistinct] phone. Let’s see who it is. Hello.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning.

Steve Price: Who’s that?

Simon Birmingham: Simon Birmingham here.

Steve Price: Heya, Simon. How are you mate?

Simon Birmingham: Great. Thank you.

Steve Price: It was great to see you yesterday at our world record. Now we’re doing it again next week. We’re trying another world record. So can you turn up for that as well? You know, it’s the early growing mangoes award. Could you do that for me?

Simon Birmingham: That’s an intriguing one.

Steve Price: Yeah. Well, we’re trying to get them to- to actually fruit all year round now. Now that would make us a tourist capital as well. Do you think tourism is important to our great city?

Simon Birmingham: Oh absolutely. You know, the data says that more than $900 million is spent in Townsville as a result of tourism. Now the vast majority of that is domestic tourism, but international tourism still contributes significantly. And what we want to try to do is make sure that we encourage more international visitors to disperse right across Australia into regional areas. And it’s going to be one of the key things we’re talking about with state and territory ministers here today.

Steve Price: What did they come here for, mate?

Simon Birmingham: State and territory ministers are here for the …

Steve Price: No, I mean what do tourists come here. The ministers come here for a junket. But, why do people come here?

Simon Birmingham: I’ll be making sure they’re working hard.

Steve Price: I know. You keep an eye on them. If you’re- actually could you stay here, make sure the local ones are too? No, I’m joking there. Mate, what do visitors come to our great part of the world for?

Simon Birmingham: Well, obviously, the climate, the coast, access out to the Reef, Magnetic Island, the things that I was having a great conversation last night after the world record breaking attempt that Phil Thompson organised for me to catch up with Townsville Enterprise, and to talk about, of course, the operations of the ferry services, the type of infrastructure that’s here, and really, to particularly appreciate the role as an education centre and scientific hub for the reef. So you attract different types of tourists to those who are just looking for a quick snorkeling experience.

Steve Price: You know our eco-tourism and educational tourism is big for us, and certainly adventure tourism.

Simon Birmingham: Exactly. It’s those types of tourists, looking for more than just a quick snorkel or a quick dive. They’re actually wanting to understand the reef more, visit Reef HQ, and understand that the education of the reef and the science behind the reef. And of course, the incredible underwater art installation that’s coming, it will be something else that really targets into a high value tourist who is looking for a unique visitor experience.

Steve Price: What are you going to do for us?

Simon Birmingham: Well, we’re already funding, of course, much in the region, having provided funding for the new stadium, funding for the underwater art installation. I’m going to make sure today that the state and territory ministers, the officials who are here from around the country, get a good understanding of the benefits of this region, this part of the world, and it’s a strategy we’re working on to take us out for the next 10 years of tourism in Australia, to 2030, really has regional dispersal of our visitors at its core, and that we’re actually looking to get people spread right across the country. And that’s about focusing on the aspect- the attributes of regions like this one.

Steve Price: And we love our home. We’ve copped a bit of a belting, but we love our home. Simon, thank you so much.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you, Pricey.