Page 1303 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2009

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Tourism—visitor numbers

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation. Minister, the latest tourism statistics have been released by Tourism Research Australia. These statistics show that the ACT continues to perform poorly across all major categories of tourists when compared to the outcomes achieved more than five years ago in the 2002-03 year and the 2003-04 year. Minister, why is the aggregate of day, overnight and international visitors to the ACT, in the year to the end of December 2008, so far below the number of tourists who visited the ACT in the year ending December 2003?

MR BARR: There are obviously different prevailing economic conditions between 2003 and the final quarter of 2008, but there is no doubt that the tourism figures have fluctuated between—

Mr Smyth: So there is an impact?

Mrs Dunne: Not one business is affected—the Treasurer said so yesterday.

MR BARR: Mr Speaker, when they have finished.

MR SPEAKER: You can continue, Mr Barr.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Economic conditions that are prevailing in—

Mrs Dunne: I think I heard it too.

Mr Coe: Hansard is just a vague recollection of what was actually said, isn’t it? It’s the vibe, isn’t it?

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister has been asked a question. Let us hear his answer.

MR BARR: For those opposite, you might want to consider that tourists—that is, people who visit the ACT—domestically will come from outside the ACT, so the prevailing economic conditions outside the ACT are going to impact on domestic visitation. And internationally the prevailing economic conditions of the various countries from which we source our overseas visitors will also be a relevant consideration. There are of course a number of other competing uses of people’s discretionary dollars.

The issue is that domestic tourism in Australia has been flat for quite some time across all jurisdictions. There are a number of factors that are influencing that. The health or otherwise of the aviation market is one pretty significant factor. Probably, though, the single biggest issue confronting domestic tourism is the amount of accumulated unused annual leave in this country. The amount of unused annual leave in this country is excessive—something in the order of 70 million unused days. In fact, I think that number has grown. That was a figure from a couple of years back.

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