The value of tourism in Tropical North Queensland is firmly cemented in the minds of the nation’s most influential politicians after intensive lobbying as part of the Cairns Convoy to Canberra last week.
Led by Advance Cairns, Chair Wendy Morris and I were part of a dynamic group of 51 of the region’s business people. We made sure we were noticed with our uniform of bright orange scarfs and ties. By Day 2 people were calling out “hello Cairns” when they passed us! So noticeable was the team that the Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the delegation on the floor of the House.
It was an invaluable opportunity to increase the awareness of the north and emphasise the importance of tourism to our economy.
Our entire group met with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. I led the Tourism delegation while Wendy led the Reef delegation and was a member of the Representation team. Between us we met with:
- Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, Tourism Anthony Albanese
- Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
- Assistant Minister for Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mark Coulton
- Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Sussan Ley
- Minister for the Environment Melissa Price
- Minister for Finance and the Public Service Mathias Cormann
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
- Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler
- Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Pliberseck
- Shadow Minister for Trade, Investment, Resources and Northern Australia Jason Clare
- Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews
- Senator Pauline Hanson
- Shadow Minister for Environment and Water Tony Burke
- Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Australia Joel Fitzgibbon
We talked about Great Barrier Reef messaging, Tourism Australia funding and the need for sustainable aviation to further develop the region’s economy.
Each politician we spoke to was aware of the perception that the Reef is dead and the need to amplify accurate, current and more positive messaging. Funding support is needed to better communicate the message that the Reef remains one of the planet’s most inspiring experiences.
To ensure Australia has a high market share of tourism we asked for an analysis of the investment other nations make in promoting their national destination and its effect on Australia’s competitiveness. The return on investment and its flow-on to the Australian economy must be considered in future budget deliberations.
We discussed how sustainable aviation is integral to the development of the region’s economy and that growing further direct international routes would increase our capacity to develop new markets.
Advance Cairns is to be commended for initiating the Convoy to Canberra and pursuing the priorities we put forward during the Convoy. We will continue to lobby politicians in the lead-up to the Federal election to ensure tourism is front of mind when election promises are made.
In the meantime please see the video wrap-up from the leaders of Advance Cairns, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
Chief Executive Officer