The Hon. John Eren MP – travel report, Turkey, April 2015

Minister The Hon. John Eren MP
Portfolio Minister for Tourism and Major Events
Minister for Sport
Minister for Veterans
Countries visited Turkey
Date of travel 21 – 29 April, 2015
No. of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
9 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency) Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)
Air fares $7,138.24*
Accommodation $2,804.16*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $7,722.67*
Travel cost for minister and staff $17,665.07*

*The above costs are not final & complete

Purpose of travel

My travel to Turkey from 21 to 29 April 2015 was in support my role as Minister for Veterans in the year of the Centenary of ANZAC. The key purpose of the trip was to represent Victoria at the commemoration ceremonies at Gallipoli.

The Victorian Government partners with other government agencies within Australia and abroad to recognise and honour servicemen and women of our armed forces. As part of these relationships, I received through the office of the Ambassador of Turkey an official invitation by the Government of Turkey to attend the ANZAC ceremonies on the Gallipoli peninsula.

The relationship between Australia and Turkey is one which has seen an ever strengthening bond, and my attendance as the only State Minister was significant and appreciated by the both the Turkish Government and local government in Gallipoli.To maximise the value of my travel, I also undertook a number of activities in support of my other portfolios of Tourism and Major Events, as well as advancing the government's trade interests. These activities included meeting with multiple Turkish Government agencies, Turkish Airlines, the Park Group, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies and Australian Government Officials in market.

Benefits of travel to the state of Victoria

Representing Victoria at strategically significant events

  • As the official representative of the State Government of Victoria, my attendance at the ANZAC Day services in Gallipoli was an opportunity to honour servicemen and women at the milestone centenary commemorations. The Victorian Government acknowledges the importance of the State's wartime heritage and remains committed to remembrance activities to show dignity and respect to those who fought during war.

Initiatives to boost Victoria's aviation and tourism sectors

  • I met with senior executives of Turkish Airlines in order to receive a briefing on their business operations as well discuss their proposed expansion plans. Turkish airlines has over recent years expanded operations to become one of the world's leading airlines. Now flying to South America and Africa, Australia is one of the destinations where the airline lacks a presence.
  • I also met with the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), who outlined the Turkish Government's support for their national carrier's desire to fly direct to Australia. The TCAA works with Turkish Airlines, a state owned entity, in facilitating government to government and business to government dialogue for airline regulation. At the meeting, I agreed to assist in facilitating meetings between the Turkish authorities and our Australian counterparts.
  • At a meeting with The Park Group, I received a briefing on the company's business activities including its support for the Turkish Government's international marketing and tourism objectives. Executives from the company also discussed their plans for a large scale event to be staged in Melbourne in 2016. I have since put Victorian Major Events Company (VMEC) in contact with the Park Group to explore a potential partnership.
  • Senior representatives from the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) provided insights into the travel agency industry in the local market. This meeting was also an opportunity to promote Victoria as a tourist destination and to identify further opportunities to work together.

Establishing a Victorian Government Business Office in Turkey and stronger government to government relations

  • I met with Mr Vasip Şahin, the Governor of Istanbul to discuss the plans to establish a Victorian Government Business Office (VGBO) in Turkey. The planned office will be a major contributor to facilitating government to government and business to business relationships. Mr Şahin and I discussed the benefits of business and trade facilitation with an office in Istanbul. Mr Şahin offered the support of his office in the establishment of the VGBO, and assistance to promote trade between Istanbul and Victoria.
  • During a meeting with Ülgür Gökhan, Mayor of Canakkale, discussion took place on tourism challenges and opportunities shared between Victoria and Cannakkale. In particular, we discussed strategies being employed to increase overnight visitation numbers, primarily focusing on accommodation options. Mr Gökhan also sought my assistance in establishing a sister city relationship with a city in Victoria. Canakkale had a relationship with a Melbourne based local government previously, however this ceased due to council amalgamations. They would like to progress this as soon as possible and are seeking our support and advice on this matter.
  • Two further meetings took place with the Turkish Government Ministries of Foreign Affairs; and Environment and Urbanisation. These meetings provided an opportunity to gain an understanding of the country's foreign trade policy and Turkey's pipeline of major projects. These meetings helped to identify new opportunities for Victorian businesses.

Other meetings

  • I was briefed by His Excellency Mr James Larsen, Australian Ambassador to Turkey and Mr Lino Strangis, Australian Consul General in Istanbul, to obtain an economic, political and social briefing on the country. This meeting helped to inform opportunities for Victoria to deepen its relationship with Turkey and provide further advice on the establishment of a local VGBO.

Next steps / follow up

  • A de-brief with department on market insights obtained from my travel to Turkey
  • The department will:
    • facilitate discussion between Turkish Airlines and relevant aviation authorities to progress the proposed the expansion of the airline carrier.
    • assist to identify an appropriate, complimentary local government to aid in establishing a sister city relationship Canakkale.
  • VMEC will contact Park Group to progress major event opportunities.

Page last updated: 20 July 2016