Page 1563 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 April 2013

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takings in the Olympic year. The industry over the entire Olympic year had $117 million in takings. In 2012 it was $225 million in takings. So, even accounting for inflation, we have seen very strong growth in this sector. It is great to see new hotel rooms coming on. It is fantastic to see continued investment and I will be seeking even more, particularly from Singaporean investors whom I will be meeting with in a couple of weeks.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (4.24): I welcome this matter of public importance today and I think it is an interesting discussion on the importance of major events to the ACT economy. I think it is clear from the debate that there is no dispute in the Assembly about the importance and value of these events. The discussion really is about how we can maximise the impact of them and how we can get more of them here.

Major events like Floriade, the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition and other National Gallery blockbusters are clearly recognised as things that bring people to Canberra. Mr Smyth’s observation about the economies of those events was very interesting, although I believe the most recent one at the National Gallery did actually turn a profit. If I recall the press correctly, the Director of the National Gallery was observing some surprise at that. I think it proves the exception to the rule, but it was interesting to see that that was the case.

Enlighten has become very successful, after perhaps some shakier early starts. I recall the debates during the last term. On the warmer weekend of the two—the two weekends were quite a contrast; on one there was perhaps a slightly lesser crowd—which was the second weekend, you could not move in the parliamentary triangle. It was an extraordinary success, I thought.

Ms Berry spoke about the National Multicultural Festival and the vast numbers of people that that attracted, and the involvement of over 100 ethnic communities. With an event like that, as word gets out, people from outside Canberra will begin to realise that there are some really interesting things going on in this city and that it is well worth a visit. But I think a lot of other smaller events bring a lot of people, too, and they do have great flow-on effects for the economy.

I would like to talk firstly about business events. Business tourism accounts for around 30 per cent of visitor nights in Canberra. We know it is a high spending sector. This is a discussion Mr Barr and I have had about which sectors represent more value to the ACT economy. And the business sector is a growing sector. The surveys show that business visitors are staying longer. Research commissioned by the Canberra Convention Bureau shows that business events attract people to Canberra who would not otherwise have come, more than half of the delegates bring someone with them and they stay an extra night after their conference. So once they are here, they think, “I’d better have a look at Canberra,” and the survey showed they in fact then come back, and sometimes bring their family back, once they realise the level of attractions available in Canberra and how interesting so many of them are.

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