Belinda King: What is it about these awards that has the tourism industry in such a spin? We've got a lovely opportunity this morning to pose that question to the Federal Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham. Good morning.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning Belinda, great to be with you.

Belinda King: Welcome to Launceston. A quick trip in last night?

Simon Birmingham: I did come in last night sadly having head out tomorrow morning but it's going to be an action packed 24 hours today where we've got the Ministerial Councils on Trade and Tourism meeting. I'll be getting out a little bit with Bridget Archer the Liberal candidate for Bass, of course in my spare time and then tonight 800 wonderful guests coming to the Australian Tourism Awards from every corner of the country, descending upon a Launceston for a big celebration of the best and brightest of Australian tourism.

Belinda King: Well you mentioned just spare time, I happen to know they could use an extra pair of hands with the plates with the food from the kitchen. There are about 60 youngsters from Launceston and surrounds that are doing all that and it takes, 20 minutes to get those meals out.

Simon Birmingham: From Newstead College, isn’t that a great front page pic on the Examiner today. It just shows how a big event like this isn't just good for businesses that you think of but as so many spill over side effects and benefits for areas such as vocational education and training.

Belinda King: So what sort of direct impact can an awards win have on our business, on a nominee?

Simon Birmingham: Well I think a win is a combination of two things. One is of course, it’s a celebration it’s a highlight and focus on that business and their success and that can of course mean more people see and hear about it, their bookings can surge, the opportunity to grow their business further is there. But it's also an inspiration, it's an inspiration not only to them to keep growing their business but it really does highlight to others where some of the opportunities in the tourism sector lie. The benefits that come from quality, investment, and what we've seen is Australian tourism has grown remarkably over recent times and indeed even just here across the north west Tasmania, we saw a 17 per cent lift in international visitations last year alone and that's a credit to the local industry as much as it is to Will Hodgman, the state government and everybody involved in promoting Tasmania and its wonderful assets.

Belinda King: You're quite right, visitor numbers to Australia and Tasmania are soaring, Chinese businesses are certainly leading growth I believe that, well and truly popped up in the last couple of years. Certainly one of the biggest source of overseas tourists to Australia and in Tasmania, it certainly is a market that the local tourism operators have gone after with a great alacrity. But what more can we do to attract those dollars and you've got of course the portfolios of tourism and trade dovetailing rather well together there.

Simon Birmingham: Absolutely, I mean they they work so well together in terms of portfolios. Trade, Tourism and investment, all act to see, in harmony, to ensure that Australia succeeds. Last year being, many of your listeners will be surprised, because last year was the first year since 1973 where in each and every month we recorded a trade surplus. Australia exported more than we imported and that’s because of the very many different trade agreements (indistinct) and the great drive of Australian business to lift those export volumes. Today, we're going to as part of the Ministerial Council, the board's events kick off the extension of what's called the Undiscover Campaign, it’s a campaign from Tourism Australia to try and extend out to some of the lesser known spots of Australia in terms of our international marketing drive beyond the reef, the Rock, the Bridge, to Tasmania and some spectacular images of the Lavendar fields at Bridestowe and that’s going to be launched in the UK now, having been a very successful campaign in parts of Southeast Asia.

Belinda King: You have actually touched on something that I want to talk about right now. International visitors use our capital city as gateways to Australia. So does this campaign cover (indistinct) based on their knowledge about the smaller cities and regions?

Simon Birmingham: It’s critical to see continued growth, of course, a wonderful new gateway international visitors are going to have in the not too distant future now, is Hobart. Scott Morrison made an adjusting last week that we're going to invest eighty two million dollars to provide the necessary customs and border security services to enable Hobart to be an international airport. And why? You know I'm from Adelaide, it's not that long ago that we didn't have any international flights into Adelaide. Now there's quite a large number and I think it's a wonderful chance to see more visitors on more flights, direct flights to Tasmania. To build that it will take time, it won't all happen instantly but what we do know is that more than 41 per cent of international (indistinct) big spin off benefits for the whole state.

Belinda King: Minister I am from Adelaide too.

Simon Birmingham: I am just here on day release.

Belinda King: A very good night tonight. Tasmania has many organisations up for the awards, are we going to win?

Simon Birmingham: I have made sure that I have averted my eyes when some of those details are passed in front of me, I want it to be a surprise to me too.

Belinda King: Rubbish. All the very best to you and have a good evening with us tonight.

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