Doorstop interview, Cairns

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Cairns wins bid to host major business event; Cairns tourism.
19 December 2018

Simon Birmingham: Great to be here in beautiful tropical north Queensland, yes indeed fortrade tourism and investment. Thank you.

Journalist: Minister, what brings you to Cairns?

Simon Birmingham: Well I'm here to meet and speak with tourismindustry and spend time with the with my great mate Warren Entsch and to haveEntschy ensure that Queensland and Tropical North Queensland's tourismproviders have every opportunity to ensure that as Tourism Minister, I hearabout their priorities, the opportunities to back them, to take the tourismsector in this great part of Australia and ensure that it's even stronger andbetter into the future. Particularly...

Journalist: Have we put the Christmas list in?

Simon Birmingham: The thing about Warren Entsch is he chews your ear asa minister every week of the year, not just when you visit Queensland, but hemakes sure you always know what the priorities for north Queensland are. And asTourism Minister of course, it's particularly critical that we have a regularand frequent dialogue because this region is not only such a strong contributorto Australia's tourism industry in terms of what happens here, but also it's anicon that drives tourism to the rest of the country. And so, a strong NorthQueensland, helps to make a strong tourism industry right across Australia. Soone of the things we're really thrilled about today is that we've been able toannounce that our government's $12 million dollar business events fund isattracting another conference in molecular biology here to Queensland, toCairns, that will bring 1200 delegates here in 2021. That's going to be anotherhuge lift in terms of getting more business and conference delegates here, andthat just creates a spin off in terms of word-of-mouth tourism for many yearsto come.

Journalist: Those people coming in, you'd hope they try tostick around for a couple of days and bring their partners with them?

Simon Birmingham: The leverage off conferences and business events ishuge in terms of people staying extra days and coming back later on and that'sreally why this is such a key part of our overall tourism mission. It of courseensures that we go out to the world with some government backing, competesuccessfully to bring conferences from other parts of the world to be hostedhere. And this is an initiative of our government, creating this fund, goingout to the world bidding for conferences and it's going to bring a newconference 1200 plus plant molecular biologists, here to Cairns. I'm surethey're fun loving people who of course will be seeing some of the most uniqueecosystems in the world in terms of the reef the rainforest and that of courseis why this is such a great location to host such a conference.

Journalist: When are they coming?

Simon Birmingham: 2021.

Journalist: What part did the government play in it, what wasthe path to get them across the line to get them here? Was it the government,you know pat yourselves on the back, who else has contributed to that beingsuch a success?

Simon Birmingham: These are always partnership activities and so Ipay credit to those from Tourism Queensland, local tourism and conventionauthorities here in tropical North Queensland who are all part of the big team.But we stepped up as a federal government to put cash on the table and to helpmake sure that our bid was enticing, and that those who organised a conferencelike this can see that it's good value for money to bring those tourists here.It's a small investment that we make on behalf of taxpayers to get a very bigreturn for the nation and for this region in terms of jobs created, economicactivity, and then that lasting word-of- mouth benefit in terms of the tourismsector.

Journalist: In the shopfront of things how do we get a benefitout of it? What happens, sort of there's extra people put on to do laundry, itreally does go through the line doesn't it?

Simon Birmingham: Twelve hundred conference delegates here, they ofcourse will bring friends or family with them, they'll spend money whilethey're here not just on the conference but on other activities. They'll oftenstay an extra couple of days either side of the conference, by then the realbang for buck benefit in the years to come is once they've had a great time inCairns and the surrounding regions they go back home, they tell their matesthey tell their family they'll come back, that's really what drives it ofcourse. To make sure they get that word-of-mouth feedback that value adds yourinvestment in terms of your marketing dollars and your conference attractiondollars.

Warren Entsch: And of course you've got to understand that whenyou've got 1200 delegates and their families, that is to say they're looking ata minimum of 1200 rooms or hotel rooms, or in fact it's much more significantthan the 1200. They're looking at eating out every night, so you know therestaurant and the catering industry, our hospitality industry, ourentertainment here will get a benefit from it. And of course you also get amajor benefit for all of the other reef excursions and the land-based stufflike our aquarium and all the other land-based tourism events,Skyrail, and you know even Hartley's Adventures, people drive up to theDaintree so they hire vehicles. All of those things add to benefit from one ofthese events and you know 1200 delegates is a very, very significant event.

Can I just say to you, look it was great to havethe minister here because you know we had a good cross section of our tourismindustry here, from aviation to our marine industry, to our hotelrepresentation, to wildlife parks, the Chamber of Commerce, there was a rangehere and it was great for the Minister to hear firsthand, the opportunities andthe challenges that we have. Issues such as there's the, it's very timely theACCC's handing down of the gouging if you like and the lack of competition ininsurance. He's now been able to hear firsthand from operators the majorproblems associated with that and that was very, very important that he coulddo that. But he was also listening to other things here that are the operatorsof the issue of visas for a workforce here and of course very positive newsfrom the Chamber of Commerce that they are very well advanced in theirpreparation of a submission for Adama for our region which hopefully will becompleted in the next two to three weeks. It's great for the minister to knowabout this, so that he can then actually give his support when it goes down forconsideration.

There are also challenges in relation to our marinepark operators and you know with the changes now that are happening in GBRMPAit's been a great opportunity for the Tourism Minister because it's not theGBRMPA, while it's operated through the environment portfolio, it is a verysignificant role is recognized that is being played by the tourism operatorsand it's great for the minister to be able to do that. Aviation was another oneand the opportunities that we have in this place for aviation, but the need tocontinue to be looking at bringing in new operators. And another one, you knowyou don't think about it in tourism, but of course there's horticulture andagriculture, particularly in our tablelands because bringing those productsinto Cairns to fill the bellies of those wide-bodied aircraft is whatencourages them to come here in the first instance, because they can come infull and they can go out full. So all of these issues were raised here todayand it was a great opportunity for the Minister to hear these things and ofcourse the positive stories that we've been sharing as well. And so you know itwas great to have you here Simon, I know you'renot a stranger to this place and we certainly look forward to working with youwell into the future.

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