Page 3905 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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Engaging with our nearby neighbours in Asia and the Pacific as part of a deliberate strategy of international engagement is vitally important to our growing city, and our government is committed to showing off the world’s most livable city and what we have to offer to the rest of the world.

In Canberra’s international engagement strategy from last year, the Chief Minister succinctly outlined the government’s understanding of the importance of international engagement: building our profile and promoting Canberra as a place to invest, to do business, visit and study, cementing our position as a city of global significance.

Today I want to highlight the importance of our relationships and engagement with Singapore, China, Japan, and New Zealand in particular, four of the five countries that we have deliberately set about to engage with over the coming years. We are now truly living in the Asian century and our government absolutely acknowledges where the future of the world lies in terms of our engagement.

This Thursday will mark exactly one year since international flights began between Canberra and Singapore. The direct capital express route is critical to bringing our global city closer to travel and business hubs in South-East Asia. As outlined in the international engagement strategy, this new route has an important purpose in working towards our government’s goal to grow the value of international and domestic expenditure from tourism to $2.5 billion by 2020. This will be further aided by the announcement by Qatar Airways that flights from Canberra to Doha will begin on 12 February next year.

Tourism to Australia, and to Canberra, is growing and is a priority market for our government. We are beginning to see significant success as we grow Canberra’s brand awareness across the world. For the year ending June 2017, international visitors to the ACT exceeded 220,000 people, a 9.1 per cent increase from the previous year. Expenditure from these visitors was $535.4 million, which represents a 27.3 per cent increase from the previous year. This demonstrates that not only are more people coming to our city but more money is being spent on these visits, which means more jobs and more growth for our economy.

Not all of these visits are for leisure. Business travel increased by 2.8 per cent and the total visitor nights for business travel totalled 426,000 nights, which is a significant 136 per cent increase from the previous year. Along with Canberra embracing international visitors—both for business and for leisure—it is essential that we meet regularly with our international friends and partners face to face to spruik Canberra’s economic strength and potential.

In fact, just on Monday a delegation of Canberra businesses and businesspeople from the private sector travelled to Singapore to discuss how IT infrastructure can be more effectively rolled out across our country. The delegation included Veritec and Canberra Data Centres, two locally situated businesses. The chief executive of Canberra Data Centres, Greg Boorer, said the similarities between Canberra and Singapore provide Canberra businesses with unique opportunities to do business.

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