Western Sydney Visitor Strategy Launch
09 June 2017
I am very pleased to be here today to speak at the launch of the Western Sydney Visitor Strategy.
The development of this strategy is an impressive example of the private sector coming together with key public sector partners to generate a strategy for economic and social growth.
As the Western Sydney Business Connection has identified, the visitor economy in Western Sydney offers significant growth potential.
This is a topic in which I take particular interest, as the Commonwealth Minister with responsibility for Western Sydney Airport.
The Turnbull Government is working closely with the Berejeklian Government in NSW to deliver unprecedented levels of infrastructure investment in Western Sydney.
There is a virtuous circle between this infrastructure investment and the growth of tourism in Western Sydney. The new infrastructure is vital to support growth. At the same time, if we improve our infrastructure it can stimulate increased tourism.
Before I turn to speak about the Western Sydney Visitor Strategy, I want to remind you of the scale of investment you are seeing in Western Sydney infrastructure. Three projects stand out particularly.
The first is WestConnex, the $16.8 billion motorway project with substantial state government funding as well as $1.5 billion of Commonwealth grant funding and a $2 billion concessional loan. This will deliver a better connection between Western and South Western Sydney on the one hand and other parts of the Sydney metropolitan area on the other.
The second is the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, a $3.6 billion commitment jointly funded by the state and federal government to build first class ground transport connectivity to support Western Sydney Airport, as well as make important improvements to the road network in Western Sydney. Under this plan there will be a new M12 Motorway joining the airport to the M7 and the Sydney motorway network; the Northern Road will be upgraded to 4 lanes along a 35 kilometre stretch; and other key local roads such as Bringelly Road are being substantially widened.
The third project of course is Western Sydney Airport at Badgery's Creek, funded with a $5.3 billion equity injection into WSA Co, the new government owned company that will build and own the airport.
Western Sydney Airport has been under discussion as a potential project for decades—but in 2014 the Coalition Government took the decision to proceed.
Since then an enormous amount of work has been done, including vital regulatory and contractual processes. The Commonwealth Government has prepared and issued draft and final Environmental Impact Statements.
We have prepared and approved the Airport Plan—which gives formal approval under the Airports Act to build an airport at Badgerys Creek.
There has been a lengthy programme of consultation with Sydney Airport Group under their right of first refusal, before issuing a formal contractual offer to them, known as the Notice of Intention.
Recently, that process culminated with the announcement that Sydney Airport Group would decline to exercise its Right of First Refusal, and that the Government would build and own the airport.
It will be operational by 2026 with the terminal to have capacity for ten million passengers.
Western Sydney Airport is critical, not just for the Sydney basin, but also nationally. Sydney is Australia’s busiest aviation market, with 42 per cent of all tourists to Australia coming into Sydney. 1
The 2012 Joint Study on aviation capacity in the Sydney region found that Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport will soon face serious constraints. By around 2027 all slots will be allocated.
By around 2035 there will be practically no scope for further growth of regular passenger services at Sydney Kingsford Smith.
So Western Sydney Airport will have a vital role in providing aviation capacity for Sydney and the nation—and it will bring substantial numbers of new visitors to Western Sydney.
That is why it is so pleasing—and timely—to see this Western Sydney Visitor Strategy being launched today.
What stands out about the strategy is how well it is aligned with the Turnbull Government’s overall policy approach to urban infrastructure, as exemplified in the three major projects I mentioned earlier.
As the strategy paper notes, it is critically important that the tourism industry take “advantage of a tail wind created by Government investment in infrastructure”.
The transformational impact of airports on tourism growth is now well understood—and there are good examples around the world. Dallas Fort Worth Airport in Texas, for example, opened as the region’s second airport in 1974 and now has 65 million passengers a year. A recent economic study found that the impact of visitor spending in the surrounding region of North Central Texas, attributable to the airport, was over $2.8 billion a year, and supported over 22,000 jobs.2
Another example is Cork Airport in Ireland. A survey of passengers there found that 40% of passengers would not have visited the area in the absence of air service connections. It is estimated that expenditure by these visitors sustained 3,889 jobs.3
I also particularly endorse the focus in this strategy on the importance of integrated planning as we grow business and tourism in the region. The Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments have already set some of the groundwork for this through our work on a Western Sydney City Deal.
The City Deal is about all three levels of Government working together and leveraging the opportunity presented by the airport investment. The City Deal will coordinate growth and maximise the benefits from the development in and around the airport precinct.
A coordinated approach to metropolitan development will be critical to ensuring we maximise the region’s productivity and liveability. I was pleased to see the strategy’s recognition of the important role that councils and the private sector will have in coordinated growth.
I also note the strategy’s focus on the tourism benefits of creating a great city for people who live in Western Sydney. It is perhaps a truism, but places where people love to live are also places that people love to visit.
Of course, the Greater Sydney Commission has proposed a three cities model—the established eastern city, the growing central city (which we are in today) and a third new western city building on on the new airport and existing Western Sydney centres.
The construction of Western Sydney Airport—and the focus of both the Commonwealth and NSW Governments on building Sydney’s third city around the airport—gives an extraordinary opportunity to create such a city, one which people love to live in and love to visit.
Western Sydney today is a very large, diverse and distinctive area. It offers the vibrant multi-culturalism of centres such as Liverpool and Blacktown; the natural beauty of locations like Western Sydney Parklands; and the fierce tribal loyalties for local sports teams like the Eels, the Panthers, the Giants and the Wanderers.
Within a few years Western Sydney Airport will add another vital aspect to this community—and attract many more visitors to Western Sydney.
I have made it clear that we certainly are not planning Western Sydney Airport to be a ‘low cost’ or ‘discount’ airport. The airport is being planned to operate for fifty, seventy, even one hundred years. A critical part of this will be the design of both the airport and the surrounds.
The terminal will be a building that reflects the confidence and aspirations of Western Sydney. Airports are, by their nature, major public spaces. We are determined to build an airport that people in western Sydney can be proud of.
This is particularly important because, in the first 20 years, an important market of the airport will be local travellers. The number of Australians taking overnight trips has increased by 6% to 37.1 million trips, contributing $30.7 billion a year to the economy.4
Domestically, the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ segment is an important component of the air travel market. As Western Sydney, which is already Australia’s fourth-largest city, continues to grow, this will be a strong factor drawing visitors into the region.
Of course, the airport will also support the international tourism growth opportunity identified in the study by providing much needed aviation capacity in the Sydney basin.
The 2014 Deloitte report on the economic impact of the Western Sydney Airport noted that the inbound tourism to Australia from China is expected to increase at 7.2 per cent a year over the period to 2020, and Indian visitor arrivals will grow at 8.5 per cent.5
Western Sydney Airport will be well placed to serve international operators who are unable to obtain slots today at Kingsford Smith Airport.
The Airport will also provide the potential for new approaches to the standard itineraries offered by inbound packaged tour operators.
It is not hard to imagine tourists who fly into or out of Western Sydney Airport on an itinerary which includes a day or two visiting local attractions in Western Sydney, and overnight in the Blue Mountains or the Southern Highlands, in addition to the more traditional features such as the Opera House, Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach.
Of course, it is vital to nurture a deep relationship with the community as this development occurs. Community consultation will be key. We recently held the first meeting of the Forum on Western Sydney Airport, a community engagement body chaired by Professor Peter Shergold (Chancellor of Western Sydney University).
Let me encourage everybody here to keep front of mind the need to communicate effectively with the people of Western Sydney on the opportunities that growth will present.
It is vital that the community of Western Sydney are able to participate in this exciting period of growth and development.
Let me conclude by stating my belief that this is a very exciting time for tourism in Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Hawkesbury and the Southern Highlands.
The combined investment of the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, including particularly Western Sydney Airport, has the potential to spark a transformation of tourism in this area.
To capture this opportunity we need a co-ordinated and strategic effort. I commend the Western Sydney Buisness Connection for your work to answer that need by developing the Western Sydney Visitor Strategy being launched today.
I look forward to working with you all to maximise the opportunity for tourism growth in Western Sydney in the coming years.
 Tourism Research Australia. 2016. State of the Industry 2015-16.
 ‘The Social and Economic Impact of Airports in Europe,’, York Aviation & Airports Council International, January 2004, p 44
 Economic impact of a Western Sydney Airport—Deloitte Access Economics, 2014, p.11 www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/finance/deloitte-au-fas-economic-impact-western-sydney-airport-240914.pdf