Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999
Parliamentary Record 20
Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 encouraging, supporting and developing new major sporting, recreational and cultural events; and nurturing regional and community events. An all year-round tourism industry will be encouraged by improving access to existing and emerging areas of interest, by providing appropriate infrastructure, and promoting quality experiences that can be linked to the shoulder and off-peak season. Regional tourism will be extended as we continue to develop ways to theme and link regional destinations to the major gateways and icons, ensuring a broader dispersal of the economic and social benefits of tourism through the whole of the Territory. Specific initiatives include; promoting Alice Springs, Darwin, Tennant Creek and Katherine as destinations for the extended Ghan passenger train service; implementing the 4x4 Explorer program through national parks; updating the NT aviation strategy and pursuing opportunities to increase the number, frequency and capacity of carriers servicing the NT; encouraging home port cruises in the Arafura Tourism Zone based on Darwin and implementing the 1998 Cruise Ship Strategy; and continuing emergence of Darwin as a significant Australian gateway city widely promoted during the East Timor situation, added to this being the opportunity to develop destination resorts to open up new markets. Mr Speaker, the strategies and initiatives Ive talked about will lead the Territory into an exciting new economic age. A more diverse economic base will help to protect us from the vagaries of changing market requirements in individual sectors and give us a more solid foundation for growth. Supported by the initiatives in the other Foundations for Our Future documents, the plans Ive outlined will bring stronger economic growth, more opportunities for enterprise, and employment and regional development. The growth of the Northern Territorys service industry has the potential to benefit all Territorians. Mr Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of the statement. Mr HENDERSON (Wanguri): Mr Deputy Speaker, diversification of the Territorys economy is indeed a poor challenge facing the Territory as we move towards the new millennium. We can no longer totally rely on mining, pastoral and public sector industries to provide ongoing employment for economic growth in the Northern Territory. Thats not to say that these sectors arent important and certainly need ongoing government assisted strategies to maximise the potential to further develop these industries. However, we do need to diversify the economy to maximise the Territorys economic potential as a whole. The minister has focused this potential diversification in 4 areas of economic activity: information technology and telecommunications, business and finance, the knowledge economy, and tourism. Focusing on my shadow portfolio area, tourism is certainly the outstanding success of the Territory economy over the last decade. The minister stated the industry this financial year contributed $763m to the Territory economy. I know that accurate estimations as to the value of the economy of the very disparate parts of the tourist industry is difficult to determine. However, the ministers own department on their statistics page of their website predict the value of tourism to the economy for the 1998-99 financial year at $713m, and next year at $738m. I am a little curious as to how the minister claims a figure of $763m for this financial year. A $50m discrepancy in these figures is substantial. There are about 900 businesses engaged in the tourism sector in the Northern Territory. Some of these are very small businesses and the industry also employs around 17 000 Territorians. However the industry is cyclical to a degree. It is affected by even small movements of economic indicators such as currency exchange rates, interest rate movements, oil price movements, etc. In fact anything that makes the Territory a more expensive destination to get to and a more expensive place to stay once you get here. Just looking at visitor numbers over the years demonstrates that ongoing growth year on year in this industry cannot be guaranteed. Although the figures year on year since 1992 show an increase in overseas visitors from 195 000 in 1992 to 372 000 in 1997-98, the interstate visitor numbers have fluctuated substantially from a high point of 619 000 in 1995-96 down to 495 000 in 1997-98. Intrastate travel within the Territory has also fluctuated substantially from again a high water mark of 378 000 in 1995-96 down to 293 000 in 1997-98. We still have not got back to the high point of a total of 1.343 million visitors in 1995-96 with the minister predicting 1.2 million visitors this year. What these figures indicate is that as a 4778
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