Interview on Channel 7, Sunrise, with Monique Wright

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Assistance for regional tourism industry, border restrictions.
27 September 2020

Monique Wright: And we’re joined this morning by Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham with the details of that investment. Good morning to you. Now, what exactly will that $250 million go towards?

Simon Birmingham: Hello Monique, well, what we’re doing today is announcing a particular investment in supporting regional tourism industry and communities. We know that across regional Australia some 300,000 jobs depend on tourism, usually generated by $5 billion worth of international visitor spend. Now, that’s not happening at present, so we are building on some of the announcements we’ve made for meetings and conferences, city-based tourism to also have targeted support for those regions of Australia that are the most dependent on international visitors. Think Tropical Queensland or central Australia, where international visitors come, spend and sustain many of the jobs and businesses in communities. So we’re targeting some additional support and spending for those regions to be able to try to get more domestic visitors in and really to be able to lift and invest in their industry to see them through these tough times.

Monique Wright: There’s massive opportunity in this isn’t it, for Australians to actually discover areas within Australia?

Simon Birmingham: The opportunity for Australians is wonderful and if there is one little plus that I hope comes out of this terrible challenging year, it’s that I hope Australians at the end of it are better informed, better knowledgeable ambassadors for Australian tourism as a result of seizing the opportunities over the next year or so to get out and explore our wonderful country. But do it as a proper holiday is the message that we will have for people. Don’t do a short quick weekend day trip. If you can afford it and you’re in the position to do so, get out there, take a proper break, a week or two weeks, truly explore, book some tours, book some experiences. These are the types of things that will give you the best possible trip and the best experience of Australia but also help to save the jobs and the small businesses of some of those tourism operators who are doing it toughest right now.

Monique Wright: Now, we’ve seen the immediate impact of South Australia reopening its border to New South Wales, in particular, also to the ACT. Just extraordinary numbers heading to South Australia. Is there a message in that for Western Australia and Queensland? I really want to get your opinion on borders right now.

Simon Birmingham: South Australia has led the way, pleasingly, and is open to every state and we all understand why Victoria is a special case right now, and we just hope to see them get better as soon as they can. But of course there’s reasons to protect the population from Victoria. The rest of the country can absolutely learn from what the South Australian Premier Steven Marshall did. He took an evidence-based approach. He said he’d open up to New South Wales once there were 14 consecutive days of no community transmission. He’s done that. And what we’ve seen since is wonderful scenes at Adelaide Airport of people coming from Sydney. It was like scenes out of Love Actually...

Monique Wright: [Talks over] Yeah, it was actually.

Simon Birmingham: …as families reunited and embraced. It was really quite beautiful to see. But also, you know, now the chance for our tourism operators to actually get more customers. And people who are travelling interstate will do more of those sorts of things I was talking about before, more like an international visitor in terms of staying a bit longer, undertaking different tours and activities. It’s not the same as just having people hop in their car and go a couple of hours out of the city.

Monique Wright: All right, well, $55 billion lost in domestic tourism, another $31 billion from overseas visitors this year. Hopefully your $250 million investment in the industry is going to make some sort of a change. Simon Birmingham, thank you.

Simon Birmingham: Thanks Monique, my pleasure.

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