Welcome to this morning’s events and conference. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to renew friendships, relationships and to continue to build partnerships that are so important to us all in what is, at the end of the day, the emotion business. We are about, in the tourism industry, providing the opportunity for people to have those unique experiences that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives and it’s about grabbing the emotion that makes somebody, who’s looking for that experience, make that decision to travel to a destination.

Tony has just given you a really good insight into the work of Tourism Australia and congratulations to Tourism Australia on the work that they have done in leading the Summit. This is the fourth of their Summits and when I came to the portfolio last year I asked them to do one simple thing, and that was to be the best marketing agency in the world, promoting the most desirable tourism destination on the planet. And I think they are doing pretty well. The media that they showed last night, I think, gave a great portrayal of Australia’s aquatic and coastal attributes and the fact that it was voiced by a god doesn’t hurt much at all.

So we have an aspiration to grow overnight expenditure for our tourism industry in Australia to between $115 and $140 billion per year by 2020. Now we are tracking nicely towards the bottom end of that range and we have a projected growth rate for our tourism industry in Australia of about 4.1 per cent per annum over the next decade. But we’d love your assistance to actually tick that up.

Tourism and International Education, my two portfolio responsibilities, have been recognised as two of the five super-growth sectors of the Australian economy over the next decade. It’s nice to be in a portfolio where there is good news and, as Tony said, we’ve had some pretty good results over recent years.

Our growth out of this market in particular last year in arrivals was up 10.3 per cent. Thank you for all of the great work you are doing to assist us with that because we know that the relationships and the work that’s being done by our partners here in the US play a significant part in that.

Our expenditure out of Canada was up eight per cent to the year ending September last year. So, again, we are seeing great numbers in that area and overall our figures into Australia were really good.

The US is one of Australia’s oldest friends and most important relationships and we understand that we need to continue to work on that to keep it strong.

As a government, where we are working at the moment is to ensure that the policy settings for the tourism sector and international education are placed in a way that facilitates the growth of the industry – not inhibits it. So we continue to look at our competitive place globally in respect of accessibility so airline access, connectivity, we all understand, is extremely important. We continue to look at our competitiveness internationally with respect to visas.

We understand that, while the dollar does have an impact, if you look at the numbers that sit behind that, we, despite the fluctuations in the dollar, have seen pretty strong growth over a period of time. We understand that it is a factor, but perhaps more in the psyche of Australians at home than it is, necessarily, internationally.

As Tony said, we want to convert the reality that we are the number one nation in the context of aspiration internationally into people making that definitive decision to come to Australia.

You saw last night in the vision that we displayed to you, how great our coastal and aquatic attributes are and if you think that was good, and I hope you do, I really do urge you have a look at the virtual reality tools that we are providing for you to access and to work with your customers into the market. Take a look, actually step inside the experience because that’s where it takes you.

The first time I saw it I was being, quite rightly, feted by Tourism Australia with a local scene from my home state of Tasmania. They didn’t tell me where it was but I suspected that that’s where it was – they were doing their job and keeping their Minister happy – but I looked over my shoulder inside the virtual reality headset and I immediately saw the yellow boat so I knew where I was, I knew who was driving the boat and it actually put me in the experience.

So what we are trying to do is provide you with the tools that will give you the best opportunity to work with your clients to put them in the experience, to convert that aspiration into the reality of booking an experience in our wonderful home country of Australia.

Of course there other tools that we are providing as well. I encourage you to utilise the hashtag #SeeAustralia. We are working with our industry and people who come to our great country to use that hashtag to put images of their experience that then can be displayed as part of our portrayal of Australia.

And we also have 360 degree technology that will sit on your mobile device and it’s not quite as deep and as immersive as the virtual reality technology but it does give you an idea of what you will see. So we are trying to provide you with the best possible tools to display what a fantastic experience it would be to come to our country and the opportunity to immerse in it.

Now I can’t help but boast about the attributes and there are a couple of words that I have used over quite a considerable period of time during my time in the Parliament and in previous portfolios to describe what we offer. Two words – quality and safe. When I travel internationally talking about the food that we have in Australia, two words I can use, very comfortably, are quality and safe. We have great food and I was talking to some people last night who’d been to Australia, to my home state of Tassie and the thing that struck them was the food. We have a fantastic food experience, we have sensational food.

But in the context of the global environment now, we also have a very safe place to go. So if Australia was one of those places which you thought you might like to go to one day but you’d been looking for the right time, there has never been a better time to come to Australia, there has never been a better time to come to Australia.

So can I, again, as I did last night, thank you all very much for being such strong partners in the strong relationship that we have with this country. It is a longstanding and important relationship and it’s one that we value highly and we want to make you and your country men and women welcome in our country.

We want to work closely with you to do that and that’s why we appreciate so much the fact that you have taken the time to attend the Summit here today and the opportunity that so many Australian businesses have taken to be here to participate in the event this week it really is an important part of the relationship. The more people that travel between our countries the better we get to know each other, the stronger the relationship becomes.

So in closing, to make sure that the message is strong, can I thank you all very, very much for working with us to promote the message that there is Nothing Like Australia and as Chris Hemsworth said, “it’s not just a place you see, it’s a place you feel.” Sorry, I can’t quite do the voice. I’ll practice.

Enjoy US- Australia Business Week, enjoy the Tourism Summit, thank you so much for being here and if you want to have a yarn come and say g’day.

Thank you.

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