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 destination for overseas visitors the Territoiy has seen continued growth year on year since 1991-92, indicating that the product is still attractive and the marketing must be on track for overseas visitors. However, there are problems with achieving continued and sustained growth in interstate and intrastate travel. This is going to be comparative by the impact of the GST which all sectors of the industry are stating will affect the Territorys tourism industry. In meetings I have had with industry officials they predict that even with the elimination of the bed tax, the diesel fuel excise rebates and the elimination of other taxes, product costs for large operators with large vehicles will increase by 3% to 4% and for smaller operators by 6% to 8%. Submissions to the Senate inquiry into the GST also predicts significant problems for the Territorys tourism industry as a result of the GST. The tourism task force submission to the Senate Select Committee on the New Tax System, Tourism: The forgotten export of the forgotten employer, found that 59 500 jobs will be lost following the introduction of the GST. Most job losses would occur in regional Australia. There would be at least a 10% decrease in international tourists following the introduction of a GST and more Australians will holiday overseas with domestic tourism falling at least 4.4%. The tourism taskforce submission stated that the percentage jobs lost in the Northern Territory will far exceed those lost in the states - 5 times those lost in Victoria and more than double in what is considered to be the premier tourism state, Queensland. The taskforce submission predicts that 1947 jobs will be lost in the tourism sector in the Territory leading to a 2% increase in unemployment. The report also stated that in comparison to the size of the workforces, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Queensland are disproportionately disadvantaged by the proposed tax reform in the tourism sector. Has the government conducted a study on the effects of the GST on the tourism industry in the Tenitory? What modelling has Treasury conducted across the various economic sectors of the Territory economy to determine the impact of the GST in the Territory? Again, I refer to the ministers own departments website which predicts increasing numbers from the interstate and intrastate domestic tourist market plus the implementation of a GST. I am interested to hear how these figures have been arrived at in the absence of any Treasury modelling. I know that people in the industry do keep an eye on these figures and take these figures into account when making investment decisions and people are also questioning these predictions. In an article in the Financial Review on 9 June, the Queensland Tourist and Traffic Commission study showed that the GST would add $440 to the cost of a one week Caims package for a family of 4 from Melbourne. Overseas destinations in Asia in particular, with the economic problems those countries have had and the good exchange rates on offer, will become increasingly attractive as a holiday destination. We will have to work extremely hard and with innovative marketing strategies to convince that family to come to the Territory instead of heading off to Asia. The tourism market is extremely price sensitive and there is no doubting that until the GST is bedded down, adding between 3% and 8% to the products in the Territory when it is already an expensive destination to get to will not, in itself, lead to growth in the industry. If the minister believes there will be no negative impact on the tourism industry in the Territory as a result of the GST in the short to medium term, then I look forward to his argument, because this certainly wasnt what was experienced in Canada and New Zealand when those countries introduced a GST. We have had bestowed on us by the forces of nature environmental and ecological wonders such as Kakadu, Uluru, Litchfield, Nitmiluk, etc and we already have a head start as a destination for visitors wanting a unique travel destination. As well as providing a quality product - and Im pleased to see the governments support for the accreditation initiatives coming from the industry - we need quality and imaginative marketing strategies to tum interest into travel. Given that the Territory will always be, in relative terms, an expensive destination to get to, for many tourists it will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we need to maximise benefits to the Territory by the identification and targeting of high-yielding segments in each market, for the long stay and high spending visitors. These tourists fit into both the high income business travel segments as well as the long-staying, budget backpacker market. This backpacker market essentially grew via word of mouth in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with very little by way of marketing to this sector. We all know that the backpacker market has been the engine room of the tourist sector in the Territory. I believe we can do more by way of targeting marketing strategies to promote further growth in this sector. International backpackers stay longer, visit more regions and spend more than other visitors to Australia, Bureau of Tourism research data shows.
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