The Sunshine State beckons again this week as I joined a delegation of industry leaders for a roundtable discussion of our priorities with the Minister for Trade, Tourism & Industry – still loving that title! – Steven Ciobo today in his electorate on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is a region that inherently understands the value of the visitor economy and the need to continue a positive reform agenda to make it even stronger.
With the election result now declared, it’s time to get on with the business of governing the country and I’m very pleased to be able to kick off the new term of Government with a warm and constructive meeting with the Tourism Minister. This meeting was the opportunity for industry leaders to reinforce our message on our key reform issues – taking action on the backpacker tax, freezing the Passenger Movement Charge, cutting the cost of visas, securing and skilling our workforce and investing in visitor infrastructure to highlight just a few of our issues. We’ve got a great advocate in Steven Ciobo – with the tourism portfolio now back around the Cabinet table where it belongs – and we’ll be continuing to work closely with him, his office and the Government on our election agenda.
Just as one election campaign finishes another begins with the Northern Territory heading to the polls by the end of August. Today, TTF has publicly released our Northern Territory Election Manifesto and we are calling on all political parties to embrace the agenda into their policy platforms ahead of the election.
Home to some of the nation’s most iconic natural wonders – Uluru, Kings Canyon, Katherine Gorge, Litchfield and Kakadu – and a strong connection to the heritage and culture of Australia’s first people, the Territory has so much to offer to millions of traveling Australians and the burgeoning numbers of international visitors in our immediate region if we are willing to make the investment in the sector.
The next NT Government should have the ambition to set a target for the next decade that goes beyond $2.2 billion in overnight visitor expenditure by 2020. With the strong growth in the Asia-Pacific – China alone is anticipated to have 200 million travellers heading overseas by 2020 – and their insatiable appetite for natural, cultural and heritage tourism, the Northern Territory can leverage its visitor assets with smart campaigns to drive more visitors and spending in the Territory.
Underpinning this great potential must be a strong transport network. If visitors cannot access the attractions and experiences on offer then the visitor economy will not reach its full potential. Investing in transport infrastructure such as key tourism roads, cruise ship access, bus and rail links and attracting more aviation services to key tourist markets will ensure the overall success of the visitor economy and must be a priority for the Northern Territory Government.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good survey. TTF is working on a research piece with Ernst & Young on the restructure of the visitor economy and we are seeking industry views of the challenges and/or constraints on current and future growth of the sector and why. We’ve put together a good-old fashioned five minute survey and I encourage all our members to complete it and please feel free to share it with other industry stakeholders to help us get a good result.
Don’t forget to register for TTF / UITPANZ Australian Transport Summit which we will be holding in a little over two weeks’ time. We’ve got a great line up of domestic and international speakers including Gerald Francis (Keolis North America), Philip Davies (Infrastructure Australia), Paul O’Kelly (Irish Rail), Pierre Zivec (Transdev) and Tony Braxton-Smith (Transport for NSW) to name just a few. Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester will be our special guest for the opening night cocktail function. So make sure you get your registrations so you don’t miss out on this exiting transport industry bananza and I’ll see you at the Summit.