Page 1076 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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MR QUINLAN: Quite clearly, large events are crucial to the tourism mix in the ACT. We have had some dark figures promulgated in the last couple of months about the level of tourism. I have to say that, having seen reference to those numbers, I went and had a look at them. I have looked at the peaks and troughs over about the last four years and the level of tourism reported in the last couple of months is about on the line of best fit between the peaks and troughs that we have had over maybe the last four years. But that is not good enough; we want to increase it.

Certainly, the level is not dramatically down on some previous regular flows of tourists. In fact, I have to say that a lot of the numbers that we receive from particularly the hotels association and some of the attractions do not quite gel with the level of tourist numbers reported. Certainly, if you look back at those numbers, you can see the events coinciding with the peaks that we have had.

With regard to that, we have had a reorganisation within Australian Capital Tourism. We are setting up an events section that will focus on the development of events and the management of the current events, the major tourism events that are, in the main, Floriade and the rally at this point. There have been lots of other great events in the ACT in recent weeks but they are, if you like, more internal, more celebrate Canberra events. We are talking now about tourism attraction events. We will be pursuing a policy of building further events for Canberra.

There is now on the drawing board for December of this year the Brindabella mountains challenge, which will be a whole series of bicycle events—so it does involve bikies, Mr Pratt—for all sorts of cycling from mountain riding to BMX, racing, freestyle and recreational riding. It will be a unique event in the breadth of it. It will be a very neat fit into our calendar—December is a quiet month in the ACT; so it will fit into a hitherto quiet part of our calendar—and it will showcase a different dimension of Canberra, that is, the Brindabellas. But it will not be confined to the Brindabellas. There will be events within central Canberra. In fact, there will be an event village in the parliamentary triangle.

Looking at other events that are the nearest thing to this one, such as the Jacobs Creek tour down under in Adelaide, these events do promise a considerable amount for tourism if run well. In fact, I saw a reasonably conservative estimate of about 1,600 participants in this event in December, probably supported by about 5,000 officials, coaches and family. More than half of those are estimated to come from outside Canberra.

I am pleased to announce that there will be a working party headed by Mr Stephen Hodge, a well-known former champion cyclist, well-known coach and well-known participant in cycling at all levels—in administration in particular—including at the national level. We have tried to build the best connection we can with Cycling Australia to make this event a genuine one within the Australian cycling calendar and a genuine attraction within the tourism calendar of the ACT, providing variety and providing a wider showcase for the territory.

If you want to be in it, I suggest that you start training now. As the saying goes: on your bike.

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