One of the best parts of my job is meeting the workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru, involved in the Program. I particularly enjoy seeing them grow into their new jobs and life in Australia. They make an astonishing journey coming to Australia, leaving behind their families, children and community. They do this for the opportunity to gain skills and experience, and ensure that their families have money for education, health and household needs.
Over the past five decades, Australia’s place in the tourism sector has changed significantly. We have grown from a destination attracting 220,000 overseas visitors and contributing $74 million annually, to one that welcomed over eight and a half million visitors who spent almost $40 billion in 2016. Tourism is now Australia’s leading services export, employs five per cent of the Australian workforce and has grown on average at three times the rate of the broader Australian economy. Tourism Australia’s vision is to make Australia the most desirable and memorable destination on the planet.
“The minute I stepped off the plane in Paro, an airport in the middle of a steep mountain range with prayer flags lining the single runway, I felt that sense of coming home.”
State Visits are usually very formal affairs, with lots of gilt and glitter. But, with a relationship as close as Australia and New Zealand’s, you’d be forgiven for asking whether any of that is really necessary. We’re such great mates; wouldn’t it be possible to just get together for a barbecue? Why do we bother with all of the formalities?
I was struck by the beauty of the country and the determination of its people. Some of my ancestors sailed from Scotland to be missionaries in the Pacific, and I can see why they thought they had arrived in the Garden of Eden.