Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Return of international tourists, border re-opening.
08 February 2022

Karl Stefanovic: Tourism Minister Dan Tehan joins us now from Parliament House in Canberra. Dan, good morning to you. Nice to see you this morning. Appreciate you being with us. Look, less than two weeks now until the borders reopen, is that enough time for the tourism sector to prepare?

Dan Tehan: Absolutely, Tourism Australia have been doing a wonderful job in making sure that they've been keeping that presence in our overseas markets, and they're ready to reboot that welcoming message to international tourists. And as of this week, we'll be putting 7, 8, 9, 10 million into key markets to get that message that we're open for business. We've got the best attractions in the world, and we've got the best people to welcome you and I'm sure the tourism industry right across Australia is rejoicing.

Karl Stefanovic: Look Tourism Australia, you and I have discussed it many times, has done a brilliant job, a faultless job during this whole crisis, and it has been a crisis in tourism. Are you going to give them an injection of funds too to get the word out there about Australia and supporting all of this?

Dan Tehan: Well, one of the things we've done throughout this pandemic has rolled over their funding. Obviously, they haven't had the need to spend the money that they normally would so we rolled that money over. So, they've got the money there in their budget ready to go, which is fantastic news. And the best thing is, as you know Karl, they haven't been sitting on their hands, they've still been out there, they've been developing the material. We knew that this day would come. They've been ready for it and they're already rolling out that welcoming message, which is great. And you're absolutely right, Tourism Australia, the way they pivoted to our domestic tourism market through the campaign was outstanding and they've been ready to go for this announcement and they're off and running, which is terrific.

Karl Stefanovic: They have a bit of work to do. It has, in a way, damaged whether we like it or not, and the reasons why are obvious, we've kept this nation safe, but it has damaged our reputation in terms of coming to Australia. How do you overcome that?

Dan Tehan: Well, already, and I just got a message from managing director of Tourism Australia, she has said they've been overwhelmed by the enquiries from the UK and North America overnight. So, obviously, people, I think overseas understand that we've been through a pandemic. I think they also understand that Australia, in terms of any other country, has probably dealt with it as well as if not better than anywhere in the world. And I think they're ready to come. And I must say, the bit of travelling that I did last year, everywhere I went, they were saying to me, ‘when are you reopening? when are you reopening? we want to come’.

Karl Stefanovic: A couple of quick ones, Dan. Look, there are staffing shortages. Is this going to help with that too, across the hospitality-retail sectors?

Dan Tehan: Absolutely. And as you know, we calibrated this re-opening so we've already seen the backpackers and the international students coming back. We gave them a visa waiver. So, with this now, again, that's really going to help with those workforce shortages. So, all part of making sure that we have a very, very strong economy as we come out of this pandemic.

Karl Stefanovic: Okay, you've been keeping an eye on your text messages lately.

Dan Tehan: I have been and the last one I got was from the managing director from Tourism Australia saying people can't wait to come back to Australia and that's the type of text message that I love to receive.

Karl Stefanovic: It wasn't you, was it? Just for the record.

Dan Tehan: No, look, I got it tell you, I've been so busy. I'm trying to get a free trade agreement with India. I've been doing that right through the summer. I'm heading off to India tomorrow to see whether we can nail that. Obviously been working to get this announcement done for our tourism industry. So, no rest for the wicked and no time for texting here.

Karl Stefanovic: You do a good job, Dan. Appreciate all the work you do.

Dan Tehan: Thanks Karl.


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