Matter of Public Importance
(Port Jackson - Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism) [3.55 p.m.]: For the benefit of the Opposition, today is the first day of winter, which is traditionally a quiet season for domestic tourism in Sydney. Many Sydneysiders may not be aware of a tourism campaign targeted at Brisbane, Melbourne and regional New South Wales to encourage a visit to Sydney in winter. We in New South Wales see the tourism advertisements from other parts of the country, but we do not see how well we sell ourselves to other States. To boost tourist visits to Sydney between June and August, the State Government and the tourism industry are working together on the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign. The campaign uses print advertising and billboards to promote Sydney as a winter tourist destination.
Sydney Shines in Winter celebrates the spirit of the city, its moderate winter climate and our enviable outdoor lifestyle. While Sydney’s winter tourism campaign entices visitors to take part in outdoor food, music and sports events, Melbourne’s winter campaign’s theme is Great Indoors - come to Melbourne and stay inside to keep warm! I launched the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign at the Opera House the week before last when the sun was shining and the harbour looked irresistible. The scene before us told the whole story. What a contrast to Melbourne! Tourism New South Wales launched the campaign in Melbourne the day before on a bitterly cold and windy day. As one could expect, since then there have been a lot of inquiries about coming to Sydney.
The Sydney Shines in Winter advertising campaign uses a series of three surreal exhibitions which have been co-operatively funded by key industry partners - that is, Captain Cook Cruises, Darling Harbour and The Rocks - and will be displayed in major outdoor locations in Melbourne and Brisbane. The signature advertisement depicts a mermaid on the upper deck of the Captain Cook MV2000
enjoying the winter sunshine in Sydney, with a backdrop of the city skyline, the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The campaign promotes our winter events program: the Feast of Sydney Food and Wine Festival, the Winter Music Festival, the National Football League American Bowl, the official opening of Stadium Australia, the centenary rugby union test and the Bledisloe Cup.
Sydney hotels have got behind this campaign by providing some of the best-ever deals for accommodation rates. There is also a Sydney Experience Pass, for which 42 top attractions, restaurants and retail outlets have provided discount offers to the value of more than $500. Last year’s Sydney Shines in Winter campaign was a great success, with sales results of more than $2 million, 2,897 bookings and 4,934 passengers. Media activity involved coverage by television, press, radio and cinema in Melbourne and Brisbane. There are now two domestic wholesalers for New South Wales in the marketplace. The airlines also hit the domestic market with very competitive rates for travel to Sydney from Melbourne and Brisbane in the same period.
The campaign was strongly supported by travel agent window displays in Melbourne, Brisbane and regional New South Wales. Sales teams promoting the New South Wales Holidays campaign called weekly on travel agents. In all 4,663 calls to travel agents were received during the campaign. Bookings came from the Sydney Shines in Winter flyer and the main Sydney brochure. The hotels which participated in the 1998 campaign were pleased with the results. Given the success of this campaign, New South Wales Holidays will hit the market on a quarterly basis with Sydney deals.
The Sydney Shines in Winter advertising is in full swing. Postcards and billboards are featuring in Brisbane and Melbourne this week. The advertisements promote Sydney as a free-spirited city where anything is possible in winter. The copy on the billboards and posters encourages people to come and experience it. Packages range from $65 per person twin share for two nights accommodation to two nights accommodation and air fare from $284 per person twin share from Brisbane or Melbourne. Advertisements promoting Sydney Shines in Winter feature in the Melbourne Herald Sun
and the Saturday Age
. To make a booking people are encouraged to call 132FUN or see their travel agent.
Packages for the rugby test will appear also in the Canberra Times.
Those packages will promote a cost of $170 per person for game tickets and two nights accommodation. Advertisements promoting the rugby test will appear in the May issue of the Australian
(International) Rugby Review Extra
, on Wednesday in British Soccer Week
and on Tuesday in ethnic publications. On Thursday, the Irish Echo
will feature the official opening of Stadium Australia, with the Socceroos taking on the Federation of International Football Associations World All Stars. The State Government has recognised that tourism growth cannot be taken for granted. It is working in partnership with industry for tourism growth that does not rely only on its reputation and that generates jobs post-2000. Our winter campaign is part of that strategy, and we have backed up our intentions with funding.
The Government is spending an additional 43 per cent in funding in the New South Wales tourism industry compared with funding under the previous Coalition Government. Funding for regional tourism was at a record $7 million in the last financial year. That is 40 per cent more than in 1995. The Government acknowledges that tourism is the fastest growing industry in Australia. We know the value of an industry that pumps $38,000 a minute into the New South Wales economy. Every extra 177 domestic trips and every 18 international visitors creates an additional job. We are proud of the fact that 70,000 direct jobs have been created in the New South Wales tourism industry as a result of this promotion. The industry now employs over 250,000 people directly. That is 8.6 per cent of all people employed in New South Wales. About 120,000 jobs are an indirect result of tourism.
An extra $5 billion in income is now received by the State’s tourism industry. That represents growth of more than one-third on the 1994 income levels, and takes total growth to over $20 billion annually. Since 1994, domestic tourism has recorded an increase of 8 per cent in visits, representing an increase of 5 per cent in nights spent in the State, while nationally the figure for visitor nights has risen by only 2 per cent. Since 1994, the number of international visitor nights spent in the State has risen by a quarter. New South Wales had the lion’s share, 58 per cent, of international visitors to Australia during 1997-98. Our closest competitor was Queensland with 49 per cent, while Victoria trailing on 26 per cent. In the 12 months ending December 1998, the New South Wales share of domestic visits was 35 per cent, compared to Victoria at 24 per cent and Queensland at 19 per cent. Our domestic and international marketing is driving this growth.
In the past four years the Government has almost doubled its marketing budget to $106 million compared to $55 million spent by the previous Coalition Government. In 1996, the Government introduced a special events strategy and increased funding for special events to $1.3 million. In three years Labor committed $5.12 million to that strategy. The previous Coalition Government spent a mere $638,000 on special events in its last three years in office. The Olympic Games are expected to generate 99,000 jobs in the 12 years from 1994 to 2006, and 63,000 jobs in the five years from 1998 to 2003 in metropolitan and regional New South Wales. It is estimated that between 1991 and 2004, $1 billion will be injected into regional New South Wales through Olympic-related tourism. The Government has built an effective network of 16 regional tourism organisations to act as the focus for developing local industry initiatives and to market regional attractions.
Marketing funding under the Carr Government’s regional tourism strategy stands at a record $7 million, which is 40 per cent more than in 1995. Funding available for co-operative regional marketing has also increased to $8 million and has attracted a further $8 million from the regional tourism industry. This Government also introduced the Regional Flagship Events program, a significant component of the special events strategy, which, since May 1997, has supported 84 events and has received grants totalling $944,000. In 1998-99, this program provided $480,000 for regional events which are attracting greater tourist numbers and will develop the region’s tourist industries.
Food and wine tourism has been promoted in the regions through industry workshops, the inclusion of "Regional Landmark Restaurants" in NRMA publications and through the "New South Wales Food and Wine Trail" brochure. Regional conference business will be boosted by the agreement reached with the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau to assist regional operators through its expertise and contacts and through it conducting marketing workshops during 1999. New South Wales leads Australia in providing a strong cohesive structure under which regional tourism can consolidate and grow into a vital, economic and job-creating industry across the State.
Mr J. H. TURNER
(Myall Lakes - Deputy Leader of the National Party) [4.05 p.m.]: If the Government wants to attract people from Melbourne and Brisbane to Sydney it should fix our roads so that tourists do not disappear down potholes. Because of the bed tax imposed by the Carr Labor Government I hope that some allowance has been made for those who elect to stay in Sydney’s central business district. The Government’s proposal is a good initiative. I have already told the Minister that Opposition members have a bipartisan view in relation to many of the matters involved in this
initiative. However, I am concerned about one issue. Country New South Wales must also be promoted. I heard what the Minister said about putting $7 million towards the promotion of country and regional New South Wales. That is to be applauded.
The specific promotion to which the Minister referred today should include also country New South Wales. A briefing paper produced by the New South Wales Parliamentary Library research service entitled "Tourism in New South Wales: Possibilities for Regional and Rural Areas" reflects an insignificant number of domestic visits to country and regional areas in 1996-97 compared to the figures released for Sydney. Sydney is Australia’s gateway and, by and large, tourists want to visit Sydney. I acknowledge that Sydney must be promoted as the jewel in Australia’s crown. However, there is a real downside in relation to regional New South Wales. Page 8 of the briefing paper to which I referred earlier has a number of statistics.
There were 69,000 international visitors, or 2 per cent of the national total, to the lower coast region and 68,100, or 2 per cent of the national total, to the mid North Coast region, which is represented by me, the honourable member for Coffs Harbour, who is in the Chamber, and a number of other colleagues. Those figures are sad, but they are even sadder when compared with domestic visits to those areas in the same period. Approximately 1.5 per cent of tourists go to the upper North Coast region, 2 per cent to the New England region, 1.5 per cent to the mid North Coast region, 1.5 per cent to the lower North Coast region, 1.75 per cent to the Riverina region, 0.8 per cent to the Southern Tablelands area and 1 per cent to the South Coast. Something must be done to increase tourism in those areas. I note that the Federal Minister for Sport and Tourism, the Hon. Jackie Kelly, said in a press release dated 11 May under the heading "$8 Million Federal Funding Boost for Regional Tourism":
One of our key challenges is to excite the interest of overseas visitors in what lies beyond the borders of our big cities, but another challenge is to make sure that when they do come they receive second-to-none tourism products and services.
She went on to say that tourism in Australia was now worth over $60 billion - nobody disputes that figure - and continued:
The Federal Government is committed to ensuring that regional and rural areas of Australia are ready and able to share in the many social and economic benefits of this dynamic growth industry.
The Federal Government is aware of the vital importance of promoting tourism in country New South Wales and in Sydney. I highlight some of the areas of need. My electorate of Myall Lakes, one of the most beautiful electorates in New South Wales, is home to the Barrington Tops. One can be up on the snowline one minute or surfing at One Mile Beach or Burgess Beach an hour later. These are small issues, but they must be emphasised in the overall regional tourism concept. Inverell and New England have their own good promotions, such as Come to Inverell and New England in Winter. Those regions should be applauded for advertising and promoting their areas on television, and they should be given as much help as Sydney is being given. Anyone visiting Australia will automatically want to visit Sydney. People from Melbourne or Brisbane are also likely to want to visit Sydney.
The big challenge for the Government, and for all people involved in tourism, is to channel tourists through the gateway out to regional New South Wales. That will create jobs for young people in the hospitality and tourism industries, thereby helping to ensure the survival of country towns. As a clear example of the difference between country and city, in the Cessnock area, my old home town, the vineyards are a significant part of the economy. As stated in the briefing paper, about 800,000 tourists visit the area, generating $45 million into the economy and creating about 2,500 jobs in the tourist industry.
The Australian Labor Party went to the election with a policy document that included funding of $50,000 to work with the Wine Industry Association to develop and implement a wine tourist plan. On a pro rata basis, that amount is inadequate. The Hunter Valley wine industry is a tourist magnet, particularly for Sydney residents and tourists to Sydney because of its close proximity. This niche area should have more funding. I compare those figures to what was probably a significant budget for the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign. This large tourism industry, generating $45 million for the area, has been allocated only a small budgetary amount for its development.
The Minister referred to competitive air fares for flights to Sydney from Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. I note that the air fare from Canberra to attend the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney is about $171 and includes two nights accommodation. I might ask my daughter, who is down there, to buy me a ticket; it might be cheaper than buying one at the gate. I do not have a problem with cheaper air fares. However, to fly intrastate in New South Wales to areas of significant tourist destinations, such as Coffs
Harbour or Forster, in my beautiful electorate, costs an enormous amount of money. For example, the cost of a return flight to Taree, which is my nearest airport, is $354. That is a real impost on tourism in regional New South Wales.
The Government should negotiate with the airlines, as it has for this promotion, for reasonable air fares to regional areas. People could then afford to fly to those areas, particularly overseas visitors who may not want to drive because they are unfamiliar with our road rules. Reasonable air fares are an important aspect not only for travel within New South Wales but also for travel further afield, because the international tourist market provides a gateway to our domestic market. The Opposition congratulates the Government on the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign. But, please, Minister, do not forget country New South Wales.
Mr J. H. TURNER:
It sparkles. What a wonderful gem! I hope that through the Minister and Tourism New South Wales a similar promotion is targeted for country New South Wales, which will boost the number of people visiting those areas and create much needed jobs in regional New South Wales.
(Menai) [4.13 p.m.]: Notwithstanding the comments of the Deputy Leader of the National Party about regional New South Wales and its needs, the specific issue is about the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign. One of the highlights, and certainly most delicious, events of the campaign is the Feast of Sydney. The Feast of Sydney is a great, week-long celebration of Sydney’s food and wine scene. It is a key and successful component of the Sydney Shines in Winter campaign, which is designed to increase the number of visitors to Sydney during the winter months of June, July and August. Visitors from regional New South Wales are being encouraged to participate in the campaign’s promotion through a regional road show that has visited Newcastle and has been in Tamworth just this morning. It will also travel to Dubbo, Canberra and Wollongong later this month.
The inaugural Feast of Sydney occurred last year. It was such a success that this year’s feast will be extended to two weeks and the number of activities increased from 16 to 23. This is what can be achieved when government and industry, that is, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions, work together towards a common objective. This year’s Feast of Sydney includes the world’s longest buffet at Darling Harbour on 20 June.
I bet the Minister will be there.
With the variety of menus available, I think even the honourable member for Coffs Harbour would enjoy it. I am sure bananas will be on the menu somewhere. The buffet will extend along the entire foreshore and across the footbridge at Darling Harbour. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to take this unique opportunity to sample cuisine straight from Sydney’s finest dining establishments. The 1999 feast will extend over the whole of Sydney. Following on the success of the food trails in 1998, Sydney precincts, such as Kings Cross, Newtown, Campsie and Penrith, will present a variety of organised food experiences. The Sydney Fish Markets, the Royal Botanic Gardens and several of Sydney’s most exotic restaurants will also feature in the food trails. Cabramatta was the star of last year’s Feast of Sydney, and this year it will be the destination for an oriental express steam train ride, a showcase of Asian food, along with performers and musicians.
The Feast of Sydney will include four food festivals this year: the Taste of Asia in the Haymarket, featuring noodles and Asian cooking; the Fiery Food Expo; the Aroma Coffee Festival, once again in The Rocks; and the inaugural Regional Flavours, a statewide feast showcasing produce of the Riverina, Cowra, Orange, Mudgee and Northern Rivers districts. I am pleased to advise that children will be specially catered for, with activities at the Powerhouse Museum. I am also pleased to advise that wine lovers can enjoy the Boutique Wines of Australia 1999 festival at the Renaissance Hotel here in the city, which will exhibit excellent wines from every region in the country. The Feast of Sydney is an event for Sydney residents and visitors. Already the Feast of Sydney attracts 220,000 visitors a year during the quieter winter months. This Sydney food and wine festival is well on its way to establishing a reputation as being one of the most significant food and wine events in the Asia-Pacific region.
(Port Jackson - Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism) [4.17 p.m.], in reply: I take on board the comments made by the shadow minister for tourism. I am pleased to hear that he regards tourism as essentially a bipartisan program. Of course, that is the way it ought to be. I did not have time in my earlier contribution to talk at length about what the Government is doing for the regions. Perhaps I should take up the remainder of my time talking about the regions. I think the shadow minister will be pleased with the emphasis that we are placing on regional tourism.
The Government is creating quality jobs for the bush through the tourism industry. The tourism master plan sets out the overriding future direction for tourism in each region in areas such as target markets, product development, infrastructure, visitor services and the environment. The regional tourism strategy provides a framework for the development of strong well-marketed tourism products and destinations. The centrepiece of this strategy is the establishment of 15 regional tourism organisations, bringing together private sector, local business, tourist associations and local governments to create a strong force in local tourism development. In addition, Tourism New South Wales supports an $8 million tourism advertising and marketing campaign called Experience It. That one features Coffs Harbour, as the honourable member for Coffs Harbour will be aware.
Some current regional campaigns that are enjoying great success are Touring by Car and Short Breaks. As I said, I was in Coffs Harbour a couple of weeks ago when the print ads for the campaign featuring Coffs Harbour appeared in Melbourne. The large number of phone calls and inquiries coming through from Melbourne was fantastic. New South Wales Holidays, which is Tourism New South Wales’ wholesale program, promotes significant regional products, together with Sydney products. It is sold through 4,500 travel agents nationwide and is marketed through the Experience It advertising campaign.
To date, the regional signposting strategy has resulted in signposting of 1,600 tourist attractions and 90 tourist drives with white and brown tourist signs. Another priority is the boosting of regional gains from the lucrative meetings, seminars, conventions and exhibitions industry. Coffs Harbour does very well from that, as it rightly should, because Tourism New South Wales works closely with the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau to increase the share of the convention market that regional New South Wales enjoys.
Tourism New South Wales is working closely with the regional tourism organisations to establish regional food and wine as a key part of the visitor experience. With the release of the food and wine trail brochure, Tourism New South Wales instigated a successful program of regional food and wine tourism development and conducted pilot projects in Mudgee in 1997 and in the Riverina in 1998. The program will be expanded, with workshops planned for other regional centres.
The New South Wales Tourism master plan, which underpins all the planning and development initiatives that Tourism New South Wales has undertaken, is a whole-of-government plan for the profitable and sustainable development of the industry through to the year 2010. It was developed after extensive consultation with 75 key industry stakeholders, and I am pleased to report that 95 per cent of what the Government set out to achieve is well under way. The next stage includes making regional tourism development a priority.
On top of the $7 million already allocated to regional tourism organisations, an additional $2 million has been allocated to boost the marketing of regional New South Wales and improving regional tourism infrastructure by creating visitor information centres at key entry points to the State and at major transition points between regions. These gateway centres will be strategically located in New South Wales. So far, centres have been announced and identified for the Tweed, Tenterfield, Eden, Wollongong, Lithgow and Gosford, maximising the tourism opportunities that will result from the Olympic Games. These include special promotions for New South Wales in the post-Olympic period and a non-accredited media centre to provide resources for thousands of journalists who visit during the Games to do non-sports related stories and promotions of our city and our State.
Applying the expertise gained from the Olympic Games to secure major world events, such as the recently won Volvo ocean race stopover in 2001 and the world rugby cup in 2003, will help Sydney to maintain its place as the number one destination in Australia ensuring that the precincts of Sydney, including western Sydney, benefit from the initiatives under the Sydney tourism strategy. Tourism New South Wales will continue to develop the enormous interest in culinary tourism and work with the New South Wales wine industry to develop and implement a wine tourism and promotion plan, as well as continue to work with the convention industry and the Sydney Conventions Bureau, to ensure that Sydney stays the world’s number one convention city and to develop the convention industry in regional New South Wales.
I am also very excited by the decision of the Chinese Government to give Australia preferred destination status for Chinese citizens travelling overseas. The Premier opened a Tourism New South Wales office in Hong Kong last year in anticipation of this move. That in itself is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to build tourism beyond 2000 and to generate maximum economic, employment and social benefits right across the State. All the exciting initiatives I have outlined this
afternoon are clear evidence that the Government has recognised the exciting potential of the tourism industry and its benefit to the New South Wales economy and will ensure that those benefits are maximised through the Olympics and well beyond into the next century. [Time expired.