Immense opportunities lie before us, says minister

Immense opportunities lie before us, says minister
By admin

The opportunities for the industry are “immense”, according to minister for tourism and international education senator Richard Colbeck.

Speaking at the TTF Leadership Drinks in Sydney earlier this week, Colbeck said the government has recognised the importance of tourism, which has a rate of growth “well ahead” of the overall economic growth rate for the country. He also pointed to the complementary tourism potential of the international education segment, with 600,000 international students in Australia, visited by family from overseas on average twice a year.

Although he identified a number challenges facing the industry, he highlighted the ongoing success stories such as major strides being made on the investment front thanks to the efforts of minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb.

“There’s quite a significant pipeline of infrastructure that’s sitting there. The task now is to make that materialise and to actually get that built and ensure that capacity is there,” he said.

However, it is also vital to sustain that level of investment, he continued.

Strong growth is currently being seen on the aviation front too, with expanding international aviation capacity and connectivity an ongoing priority. However, Colbeck highlighted Western Australia and the Northern Territory as areas that could be focused on more.

“We’re enjoying really good growth at the moment but that growth isn’t even across Australia,” he said. “How do we manage the settings to ensure that connectivity and aviation capacity actually meets through those markets so that they can enjoy the growth and ensure that this really important sector of the Australian economy benefits their local economies too.”

Developments in the area of  visa reforms were also held up as an important area, with the new Indonesian three-year visa having been “warmly” greeted, according to Colbeck. The Indonesian travel industry has already indicated its ambitions to significantly increase access into Australia as a result of the changes, he revealed.

He also anticipated the new ChinaFTA would deliver a boost to inbound numbers from China, just as the Japan FTA had done from that market.

Meanwhile, Colbeck paid tribute to the efforts of Tourism Australia, pledging to support them going forward.

“I’m happy to do what I can to remove any impediments to that process,” he said.

Labour and skills shortages arose as a major concern for the industry going forward, however.

“If we want to continue to grow at the rates we’ve been projecting, we need to have the resources to be able to do that and our labour is our most important asset.”

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