Interview on 3AW, Breakfast, with Ross Stephenson and John Burns
Ross Stephenson: Victoria will be front and centre of a new tourism campaign to be launched today that will use Australian values to lure more visitors. Simon Birmingham is the Tourism Minister. Minister, good morning to you.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning guys, great to be with you.
Ross Stephenson: We’ve just taken a thousand calls on the unofficial- the list of unofficial Australian values. Has the thrust of tourism campaigns changed from just advertising beaches?
Simon Birmingham: Well it is about moving on in some ways from that, you know, what do people most want when they go on a holiday? And that is to have a good time, to have a great time, for it to be something memorable and something that truly is fun. And so yes, seeing a pristine beach or an amazing location like Grampians or the Great Ocean Road is important. But knowing that you’re going to have a great time while you’re there is also critically important, and so what we’re really trying to do through this campaign is to step that up to say well, yes, we’ve got amazing things to see and wonderful things to do, but also you’re going to have the time of your life while you’re doing them.
Ross Stephenson: Is the money you’re spending worth it? I mean, I’m a bit of sceptic about how much tourism actually benefits Australia.
Simon Birmingham: Well Victoria itself has about 3.1 million international visitors annually, and the estimates are that generates about $8.5 billion worth of spend. Across the country, one in 13 Australian jobs are related to tourism or hospitality sector in one way, shape or form. Now, obviously a big part of that is domestic tourism, but also we have billions of dollars as I said, just in Victoria alone, billions of dollars that come from international visitors. And so it is a big employer, and that is one of the things I think that is most important about the tourism industry, that it’s not just an industry that attracts large numbers of people but it’s also an industry that employs large numbers of Australians.
Ross Stephenson: Hey Minister, tell us, have the Chinese changed the face of Australian tourism in the sense that they have very little interest in sitting on a beach somewhere in Far North Queensland but they are increasingly, for example, going to Victoria for experiences?
Simon Birmingham: China’s absolutely added a new dimension. It hasn’t come at the expense of our other tourism markets, so traditional markets like the US and the UK, a returning market in a sense like Japan, they’re all very important to us still and they still love varieties of experiences from the beaches to the outback. But Chinese visitors, yes, you know, they’re more inclined towards city-based experiences. That’s starting to shift. Our early waves of Chinese tourists were basically big, organised tour groups. We’re now seeing more of what the tourism industry calls free and independent travellers, people who make their own bookings and chart their own course. And so the Chinese market is evolving in that sense and now we’ll probably start to see more diversifying out back into the regions, which is a huge part of what we want to try to do in terms of our tourism spend: you get people out to regional Australia because, again, it’s about trying to create more jobs and opportunities in those parts.
Ross Stephenson: Minister, we’ll let you go, but one last question for you. You’ll probably- you’ll be hoping for success in this campaign. You’ll probably need to speak to someone who organised an unsuccessful tourism campaign, such as where the bloody hell are you. I think his name was Scott Morrison.
Simon Birmingham: You may say that. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Ross Stephenson: Oh, ‘Straya.
Simon Birmingham: No, the PM- the PM has great background of course and experience in this industry and that campaign worked in some parts of the world, maybe not quite so well in other parts of the world, but …
Ross Stephenson: Minister, Minister, we thank you very much for your time. Simon Birmingham. The tourism video’s online now, 3AW.com.au.