Interview on Channel 7, Sunrise, with David Koch
David Koch: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to visit Australia for a bushfire recovery tour. Discussions are underway between Kensington Palace and the Federal Government, with Scott Morrison expected to formally write to the royals this week. During the trip, Kate and Wills will offer support to survivors and thank firefighters, while also drawing attention to struggling regions. For more, I'm joined by Tourism and royal Minister Simon Birmingham, live from Canberra. Minister, good to see you. How much effort has gone into the discussions around this visit? How soon could it happen?
Simon Birmingham: Look, the Duke and Duchess have of course been very open in their sympathies for Australia. They’ve been very keen to visit, we understand, when possible, and so discussions have been ongoing. As you said, the PM’s due to write in coming days suggesting locations and dates. A lot of thought has to go into those things to make sure they spend time with those who are affected by the bushfires but also, we want to make sure that we project the best possible images of Australia back to the world. The Duke and Duchess on pristine beaches, in recovering bushland, with great wildlife, demonstrating very much that Australia is still a fantastic place to visit because that’s something we’ve really got to get the word out about again.
David Koch: Yeah, gee, that is important, isn't it? That they’re just not in those scarred areas but also showing that Australia is a great place to come back and visit because it has spooked a lot of overseas tourists, hasn't it?
Simon Birmingham: It absolutely has. And we know that a royal visit can have an impact. When Harry and Meghan were here, there was a 120 per cent lift in visitations to Tourism Australia website; there was about a 30 per cent lift in accommodation bookings in the spillover period. So that sort of huge free publicity that comes from these royal tours delivers economic dividends and that’s really a part of what we’re focused on here. Of course, the fire affected communities come first, but you do want to make sure that we help those communities out by making the rest of the world know they’re still open for business, they’re still a great place to visit.
David Koch: Yeah. And it’s important that you sort of point out those benefits because a lot of people will inevitably ask — who’s going to pay for the trip? If we invite them, basically we pay, don’t we?
Simon Birmingham: There are costs that the host government has to pick up and those things will be sorted out in negotiations. But exactly. There are real benefits to Australia's economy, to our communities. And what does that mean? Well it means that tourism businesses, most of whom are small businesses, stay open, they get more bookings. They come out of what has been a really tough period for them, between the fires and coronavirus, so many Australian tourism businesses are struggling right now and we want to give them the best possible lift in markets like the UK, Europe, the US, who we know will still be willing to travel to Australia as long as they know they’re going to get a great experience Down Under.
David Koch: Yep, smart. Alright, Simon, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks Kochie.