Simon Birmingham: Thanks so very much for that welcome. I’m very conscious as the closing speaker today at The Destination Australia conference that I am the last thing standing between everybody and drinks. And so I’m confident that a politician’s speech you are eager for me to go for as long as I possibly can, cover as much ground as I can and ensure that you can all stay sober just a little bit longer. Can I start by acknowledging the Meeanjin people and all of Australia’s indigenous peoples. As Tourism Minister in doing so, acknowledge current elders and indigenous peoples who provide an increasing contribution to our tourism industry, are a critical component of the authenticity of the Australian experience, and indeed we value and thank the strong, forging, partnership that is occurring at all levels in the tourism sector between our indigenous nations and tourism providers. There is so much to be proud of and be positive about Australia’s tourism industry and I know that you as operators, marketers, those working across the industry of course are the people who drive that positivity, make it possible for some one hundred and thirty six billion dollars’ worth of economic activity, to be driven and generated out of nine point two five million international visitors to our shores. And these are overwhelmingly as you’ve been discussing today high value visitors, visitors who are discerning, who can make choices in their lives about where they go, what they do, but they choose to come to Australia and they choose to come to Australia thanks to the quality of our tourism product and the strength of our marketing message, and the fact that those of you here and across our industry keep working very hard to drive that. We’ve been enjoying something of a boom time these last few years. Over the last five years international visitor numbers have grown by around 45 – 46 per cent to Australia. That’s huge growth, relative to just the preceding five years, in which visitor numbers grew by just 10 per cent. And that’s been really important to us in terms of the economic impact, it’s been a demonstration that the strategies that we’ve put in place to underpin the 2020 targets are working and ensuring that we’re on track to meet those targets. Ninety nine per cent achieved to date, and comfortably will be exceeded by the time we hit 2020.
Today I woke up this morning and on my way to the airport got a message from my Chief of Staff, whose been Chief of Staff ever since I’ve been Minister, and she was telling me that her dog had died last night and that’s a strange thing for me to raise with all of you, its obviously sad news and it brought back memories for me. She’s got a little girl, a bit older than my kids and she’s having a tough day, she told me the dog’s been there since before she was born. And it brought back memories of me when I was a little boy and the family dog died and those momentous occasions. In coming here I was thinking, the tourism industry at its heart, you’re in the business of creating memories. Thankfully happy memories of course, not the loss of a family pet, but creating memories, lifelong memories, out of exceptional unique experiences, out of quality family time, and out of people being able to get away from their day to day lives and enjoy and experience something else. So the memories business is critical but how do you get them to come and make sure the memories they create in Australia. Well in tourism marketing, here of course in the inspiration business, inspiring people to come here to be able to create and generate those memories. That’s what’s essential and important in terms of the way we convey our messages. And a lot of today has been about providing the motivation to think of better ways, new ways, to work in sync with Tourism Australia campaigns that John O’Sullivan took you through this morning, and to talk about how at a local level, a business level, you’re able to actually create that inspiration that gets people through the door to be able to create memories.
This is a bit of a unique time in terms of government policy when it comes to tourism, its unique because the Prime Minister happened to have walked in John shoes previously. Scott Morrison was course was once Managing Director of Tourism Australia, at these events talking about the industry, the marketing campaigns, and how to drive our tourism business further. And that means we’re in a good place, a good place for me as Minister, a good place of the industry. To be able to make sure that at the highest levels of government, you have our ear, you have our backing. That’s why we’ve been working through our investment in TA, maintaining, boosting where we can in targeted ways record contributions through Tourism Australia. Making sure that we focus hard on where we can invest, target investment, to lift airline capacity and opportunities into Australia.
You know we’ve opened up and are opening up international airline access into Avalon, into Newcastle, into Hobart. All of those are investment decisions that a government makes, to be able to say yes we want those destinations to be able to receive extra support in terms of international flights coming in and getting a bigger, broader, regional spread of tourists. We don’t seek to do that at the expense of elsewhere, we seek to do that whilst also trying to do everything we can to support existing flights and more flights, and direct capacity into all of the existing markets as well. But it’s about spreading the benefits as we seek to grow the path.
Equally, investment of course in the new western Sydney airport, trying to address one of the biggest capacity constraints that we have in terms of tourists coming from overseas and getting into Australia. The Sydney capacity constraint is a real one and for a long time, governments have talked about the need for a second airport in Sydney. But now we’re at the point where the dollars are committed, the plans are there, the approval has been given, the board’s being set up, the infrastructure is about to be built. It’s a reality, and it’s one that will absolutely fundamentally change the way in which the tourism industry, along with all other aspects of trade and investment, work in the future.
Looking in terms of our transport connection, just yesterday the PM with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, was in Melbourne signing off on the details to build the long awaited train link to Tullamarine. Another project that’s been talked about for a long time, but is a critical piece of infrastructure now to improve and enhance the connectivity to one of our peak gateway airports into Australia and to make sure that it’s easier for tourists and they have a better, higher quality experience, when they’re in Australia. These are all critical projects that underpin the type of work we’re doing to now look beyond 2020. It works, the 2020 strategy, we’ve managed to meet its high yielding targets and now we look to the targets that can take us through to 2030 and the strategies that underpin that. That’s why the Beyond 2030 strategy is out for consultation with all of you in the industry, to seek your feedback about the priorities that our industry based working group has identified for us to address in terms of tourism over the next decade.
Number one, driving demand. Obviously continued focus on our marketing, who, where, how, making sure that we keep driving that demand for people to come to Australia, converting their interest into of course an activation of bookings. Number two, data analytics. I can tell you the last couple of meetings of state and federal Tourism Ministers, probably more time dedicated to discussing data analytics than just about any other topic. As we tackle with how it is we take the potential of new technology, which I know many of you do in your business as well, to be able to inform data and then use that to inform decisions, that we don’t have to in the future be as reliant on surve- based methodology to find out where tourists go, what they spend, and what interests them, and what their reactions were. We know that simply by tracking and tracing their phones, and their spending habits, their credit card use and so on, that we can get richer, more accurate, more timely sources of data. It’s just a case of how you can capture that and how you capture that in a cost effective way that we can still continue to share with industry as Tourism Research Australia does already.
The capacity constraints, I’ve already spoken about the big capacity constraint being Sydney Airport but also looking at capacity constraints in terms of shipping cruising industry. Those other sectors essential to looking beyond 2030. How we use technology to enhance the visitor experience, that’s something again, every business, every marketing agency, I know people are looking at how they can better use technology. I was just down at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary today not far from here and as we walked past the new ticket screens, huge touch screens that have been inserted and they were telling me that our peak time, in terms of visitor arrivals, we had people waiting up to 40 minutes to be able to buy a ticket to get into the place. Clearly highly unsatisfactory experience. Now, by embracing technology to be able to handle those peak times, it’s down to just a few minutes to be able to get people through and of course a transformation with that in terms of the initial experience that a visitor has going into that business. So a national strategy focusing there on technology. Ensuring we have a skilled workforce, ensuring the sustainability of our footprint, knowing that the types of visitors a country like Australia is aspiring to attract, our visitors who want a high quality experience which means our workforce needs to be able to engage and deliver on that and of course is discerning visitors who want to ensure that as they engage with nature and our wildlife, and those unique experiences Australia has to offer but there is also a sustainability underpinning that. So please engage, provide your feedback on the Beyond 2030 strategy. It has worked, having the 2020 strategy has got us to where we are. It’s seen us come through a decade of huge growth and we want to make sure we pursue that into the future.
Equally we know continuing to make sure that we make targeted tactical investments in unique visitor experiences is as essential. So just over the last few months we’ve announced huge plans for Kakadu, more than 200 million dollars’ worth of investment to support indigenous peoples of Kakadu, based out of a hub in Jabiru, to be able to really revive and transform the Kakadu visitor experience. Similar sorts of plans along the shipwreck coast or at Cradle Mountain, opportunities there as well as continued focus on the other parts of the tourism infrastructure program that are needed to enhance visitor dispersal and experience. Here in Queensland, basics like the Bruce Highway. Yes essential for locals, but critical as well and to ensure the tourism dispersal is successful. Investment in the Townsville Airport or just in the last few days seventy million dollars’ worth of projects announced under the Building Better Regions Fund. Regional projects, many of them small, often targeted to help ensure higher quality visitor experiences such as the Great Valley Trail in Victoria or the new Australian Opal Centre in New South Wales. Because on the marketing front, we want to continue to see our record investment used in a targeted and tactical way. John’s taken me through, as I said I know the ‘Dundee’ campaign, the ‘Undiscover’ campaign and the work we have with the ‘Too Australian For Words’ campaign, and of course our work in the Business Events Fund, another essential realisation where just 14 bids are generating around 190 million dollars’ worth of extra economic activity thanks to successful investments under that business events fund.
Today, we’ve turned our focus to working holiday makers. We have around 300,000 working holiday makers who come to Australia. You all know that they’re essential for two reasons, one is what they spend, what they contribute in terms of activity in the tourism industry. Working holiday makers by and large spend every dollar they earn while they’re in Australia spend the savings that they brought here to Australia in the first place, and call mum and dad and ask for more money to spend while they are here too. That’s a great thing for our industry and we want to make sure we maintain that, but also for many parts of our industry are critical sources of labour, our skilled labour. People willing to work in especially seasonal jobs, where we struggle to get employees and we’ve seen a little bit of a downturn in working holiday makers from some of our traditional markets. So we now launch Australia Inc. a new working holiday maker campaign targeted at the UK. France and Germany. Seven and a half million dollars for billboards, railway station posters, online presence, really trying to activate young people to think again about making Australia the choice for that rite of passage tour, for a working holiday maker and I think we have a little short clip in relation to that campaign you’re all about right now.
Campaign Excerpt: In an economically unstable and hyper competitive world, less and less young people are taking working holidays. These young people are united by one thing the fear of falling behind at home. For them a year overseas is a year out of the job market or a year behind at uni but a working holiday in Australia could be just what sets them apart. A chance to get off the conveyor belt of school to uni to job and forge their own path. A once in a lifetime chance to stand out. A working holiday in Australia is an opportunity, a unique life experience that makes young people more attractive to employers, not less. And we’re going to show them this by actually giving them something to put on their CV, something bigger than just a working holiday. Something as big as Australia Inc, the best workplace in the world. Australia Inc. offers a workplace like no other, the progressive, innovative spirit of a start up, with the wisdom that comes with over 50,000 years’ experience. Thousands of jobs across countless towns and cities, over fifty nine thousand kilometers of coastline, unique characters and colleagues, unforgettable friends from here and around the world. The pay is flexible, the hours are flexible, and the views from the office, spectacular. From the pristine waters of Ningaloo Reef to the fields of far north Queensland, from picking grapes in the south west, to pulling beers at an outback pub with 50 of your new best mates, a job at Australia Inc. will challenge and inspire, with skills you didn’t know you had, experiences you didn’t think possible and memories that will last a lifetime. And that’s something worth putting on your CV, courtesy of Australia Inc. the best workplace in the world.
Simon Birmingham: It’s great looking campaign indeed. A campaign that creates that inspiration we hope, for people to choose, to activate, to come to Australia, to make the decision that Australia Inc. is the best workplace in the world and and look I have to say that as Australia’s Trade Tourism and Investment Minister, I think I have probably the best job in the best workplace in the world. A large part of that is that I get to work with some of the best people, I really want to pay a credit to the Tourism Australia team, leadership, staff, creative agencies who work alongside them, for their effort but also to the industry for the fact that amongst many different industry sectors tourism does take the time to engage, to engage with the national, with state and regional tourism marketing bodies. To think about how you integrate campaigns and to make sure they use data and information to inform decisions and that really does make it as a sector, one in which I’m thrilled to work with alongside. To be able to go out to the rest of the world wearing the hat as Investment Minister and to tell people they should invest in new product in Australia, invest in our hotels, bring their airlines here and we’re able to do that because of the credibility of the experiences on offer.
Today is a great chance for all of you to have been able to discuss the opportunities for the future and I know you want to do it all again next year. On my way in here I was told that I was able to give you the details for next year’s Destination Australia conference which I am told is on March 12th and its in Adelaide. Now, I had nothing to do with that, but I’m hoping that I’m able there with you on March 12 next year, if the democratic process is willing but if I am I’ll be able to just roll out of bed and come down the street and join you for what will be a sensational couple of days I’m sure in Adelaide. We will be able to reflect upon the achievements of this year to come and again look then at finalised plan for beyond 2020 and all that we can do together as an industry to ensure success by 2030. Thanks so much for the chance to be with you today.