Page 1560 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 April 2013
and good visitation with Toulouse-Lautrec—the blockbusters are holding up their end—then what is happening in the rest of the sector when usage of our hotel accommodation is down? There is a dilemma there. Some of it may well be the abject failure of the federal government, that people just do not bother coming to Canberra any more to lobby them because they are not worth lobbying. Hopefully it will pick up after September.
Let us face it: the biggest event in Canberra every year is budget week. You cannot get a room from Cooma to Goulburn. It is chockers with people here to participate in the annual federal budget. They are here to lobby, to find out and to seek influence. If you have been up in parliament for that week, as I have and as Mrs Jones has—
Mr Barr: If they are trying to seek influence to lobby after the budget—
MR SMYTH: Well, they do come to lobby after it. They do not get what they want. They are up there belting on doors. They are here for meetings and they are here to give their commentary. You have got that one week—the biggest event of the year. If people have no faith in the federal government, that might be part of it. Hopefully it will change and people will want to come and talk to a new government. It is important that we get it right. There needs to be some drill-down on why occupancy rates are dropping in that manner and how we address it. Of course, that goes to the long-term issue of how do you increase the length of stay of any tourist that comes to the ACT so that we can get those benefits?
I thank Ms Berry for the matter of public importance. I think it deserved more than just a repetitious list of what goes on. It is time that we had a decent discussion about this issue.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (4.14): I thank Ms Berry for raising this matter today. Indeed the strategic plan for Australian Capital Tourism for the period 2009 to 2013 had a particular focus on events, with three key elements: increasing the economic value of tourism events to the territory, increasing the contribution of events to destination brand and perceptions and increasing partner support for events to allow Australian Capital Tourism to play a more strategic role in events more broadly.
I am very pleased to see in the evolution of the blockbuster fund, the events assistance program, the festival fund, the coming together in the Economic Development Directorate, the establishment of Events ACT, that all of those key elements of the 2009-2013 strategic plan for tourism and events have come to fruition, and, as Ms Berry indicated in her speech, with a major economic contribution to the territory economy from those blockbuster events—but not just those events.
The range of other events supported through the events assistance program, the festivals fund and indeed other specific government investments in cultural activities, in sporting activities and in a diverse range of infrastructure within the territory certainly is going to change perceptions of the national capital. The centenary year