David Koch: Visitor numbers to Australia are soaring, and with the clever advertising this past year, it's not hard to see why. And that has seen in the past year, the number of visitors rise by 6.8 per cent to 8.4 million, and total spend up five per cent to nearly $43 billion. Chinese visitors are leading the way with growth up 13 per cent on last year to a record 1.3 million people, the biggest source of overseas tourists to Australia. Tourism Minister and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham joins us now. Minister, Australia is a sought after destination at the moment but the ripple effect through the economy is enormous, isn’t it?

Simon Birmingham:  G’day Kochie, yes indeed, 8.4 million visitors to Australia over the previous 12 months and what we’ve seen is that we’ve got double digit growth in the smaller capital cities like Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Strong dispersion out to the regions and each of those visitors is spending around $5000 on average in Australia while they are here, and that’s a cash injection into our small businesses, to mum and businesses, right across the economy.

David Koch: The interesting one is the growth into the smaller cities, like Adelaide and Gold Coast, Brisbane. Is this because more international flights are flying direct to those cities?

Simon Birmingham:  Spot on. The international connections absolutely help. That is a key factor that we will keep focusing on. But as well, we’re making sure our advertising campaigns at a federal level, whether they reach into the US market, like the Dundee campaign you were just covering or into the South-East Asia market like our UnDiscover campaign, that they’re encouraging people to see some of the lesser-known spots of Australia and to get out and get the full picture of the different experiences Australia has to offer.

David Koch: So, that has been a deliberate ploy with the advertising. Will that continue or will you change tack in the next 12 months?

Simon Birmingham:  No, we absolutely want to try and continue to encourage visitors to get out and experience more of Australia, diverse opportunities for different experiences. Because we know that’s the way we will continue to spread the word, when they go back home, that there is more to see to Australia than the reef, the rock – Ayers Rock or Uluru. They’re important, they’re absolutely iconic assets and we keep getting record visitors to those sites, but we want to see them grow and grow out into new experiences that will get more visitors coming back for a second time or a third time.

David Koch: Yeah it is big business. Simon Birmingham thanks for joining us.

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