Monday, 30 November 2015
Questions without Notice
In particular, I would like to wish a merry Christmas to the person I am going to ask this question to, the Minister for Tourism and International Education, Senator Colbeck. Would the minister please update the Senate on how the Australian tourism industry is performing under the coalition government, particularly following the release of recent reports?
I thank Senator Bernardi for his question and I thank him for his Christmas wishes. I look forward to having a glass of good red with him before the season—to look after the great wine producers of Australia! Tourism is already one of Australia's largest exports and a major pillar of our economy. It is a $100 billion-plus industry, and, for every dollar spent on tourism, a further 87c is washed through the sectors of the economy. Tourism generates jobs, investment and growth in communities throughout Australia, with one in 12 jobs being linked to tourism. Ninety per cent of these jobs are delivered by Australians, and this is up from 87 per cent two years ago. This means that there are now almost one million Australians working across tourism. Forecasts from Tourism Research Australia recently released by the government show that this sector will continue to grow over the next decade and is set to inject more than $145 billion into the Australian economy by 2025. Inbound arrivals increased by 77 per cent, to a record 6.6 million arrivals over the last 12 months. Arrivals from New Zealand led the way, with 1.2 million inbound tourists. China grew 21 per cent, to reach over 860,000 visitors, while India grew 20 per cent to reach over 200,000 inbound visitors. I am pleased to say that the Indian tourist market has broken $1 billion for the first time, no doubt also driven by strong educational links we also share with India. This is an exciting time for the Australian tourism industry.
I have just indicated that this is quite an exciting time for the Australian tourism industry, and we need to ensure that the spoils of the industry continue to be shared beyond our capital cities. A recent report by the ABS showed that average room yields rose by 0.6 per cent in our capital cities but fell by 2.8 per cent in the regions. We need to redress this balance. Last year 100 million Chinese tourists went on an international holiday, and by 2020 this figure will double to some 200 million. We are seeking to ensure that an increasing number of these Chinese travellers visit our regions, and I am working with Minister Robb to attract investment to rejuvenate regional tourism product. Many of our greatest tourism assets exist in our regions, such as Uluru, Cradle Mountain and of course the Barossa, in the senator's home state. Tourism can be a critical developer of regional Australia, and with 45c in every tourism dollar spent around regional Australia— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Would the minister please explain how the government is removing impediments to growth in the tourism industry to ensure the sector continues to prosper and deliver jobs for Australians?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to remove barriers to new tourism growth and investment in our economy. We have frozen the passenger charge for this term of parliament, and we are working with our state and territory counterparts to shine a light on regulatory barriers to new investment. Two of the most important or game-changing areas are visas and aviation. Just two weeks ago, in Indonesia, I announced with my colleagues Andrew Robb and Peter Dutton a three-year multiple entry visa for Indonesian visitors to Australia. This will streamline and encourage more inbound visitation from that important growth market. On aviation, we have productive conversations with airlines to promote more direct routes into Australia, particularly outside our major capital cities. I was pleased to have the opportunity to welcome the first Jetstar flight from Wuhan in China to the Gold Coast, a new service that will see an extra 30,000 Chinese visitors to Queensland each year. (Time expired)