Tourism, resources must co-exist

THE tourism and resource industries must co-exist to foster much-needed regional infrastructure and economic prosperity, a peak industry conference has established.

As the State Government vies to boom the tourism industry and tensions between mining and tourism sectors in corners of the state simmer, the industry's' leading figures have called for co-operation for the greater good.

According the Federal Tourism and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, tourism contributes $34 billion to the Australian economy, a far way behind the mining sector which pumps in $100 billion.

The growing of the mining industry often leads to benefits for the tourism industry like the upgrade of regional airports.

Mr Ferguson also pointed out fly-in, fly-out workers accounted for 23% of the domestic overnight tourist market in Australia in 2010.

Its flow-on effects like this that show why Australians needed to look at the bigger picture, Mr Ferguson outlined.

"A strong Australian economy increases the wealth of most Australians and (flows on to tourism)," he said.
While mining leads the way in economic contribution, the tourism sector employs almost 5.5% of Queensland's workforce.

But the tourism industry has voiced concern the mining industry poaching their workers, a scenario Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche refutes.

"Today's barista is not tomorrow's drag-line operator," he said.

"What the mining industry needs are skilled workers and many of those go through years of training. There is a lot of hype about today's tourism worker being tomorrow's mining worker."

Minister Ferguson conceded at a Queensland Tourism Industry Council conference on Tuesday, people did not think of Queensland's coal industries first but of the state's natural beauty.

"The government is well aware of the challenges the mining boom has created," he said.

The boom had pushed up the dollar to record highs, making tourism unusually expensive for overseas visitors.

" challenge is insurmountable,"Mr Ferguson said. 


Australia doing 'world-class job' protecting reef

AUSTRALIA is doing a "world class job" protecting the Great Barrier Reef despite international concern governments are putting mining prosperity before the World Heritage site.

The 2600 km coral reef has attracted global attention recently following a sobering UNESCO report into the future of the natural beauty.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has recommended the Australian and Queensland governments make progress on environmental protection or risk the Great Barrier Reef being put on the body's "in danger" list.

A large contingent of scientists at an International Coral Symposium in Cairns this week has echoed a similar message.

But Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche and Federal Minister for Tourism and Resources Martin Ferguson believe Australia is already doing a world class job.

"Anyone who has actually read the World Heritage report would understand the concerns the World Heritage Committee have been about agricultural run-off and the scale of development for the future," Mr Roche said.

"Our track record for managing the reef is second to none. But the scale of development has simply been vastly over stated by groups like Greenpeace for their own purposes."

Speaking at a Queensland Tourism Industry Council conference in Brisbane on Tuesday, Mr Ferguson agreed.

"The challenges created by the coexistence of the tourism and resources industries have been identified by industry and government and as discussed, action has been taken to alleviate these challenges," he said.

The Federal Government recently announced a strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef for the World Heritage Centre.

UNESCO has recommended a stop on all future development near the reef outside of existing developments, which is something Mr Roche believes the state and commonwealth governments will have to look very carefully at.

"There are four other port areas but there are some other projects that are judged to be outside of that. I think the State Government in its ports strategy will be taking a very close look at that recommendation from the committee," he said.