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Federal budget cuts Tourism Australia funding, ‘puts jobs at risk’
The 2017/18 Federal budget from Australian Treasurer Scott Morrision has been met with disappointment from industry groups, with the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) labelling it a “disappointment to the visitor economy”.
Tourism was hit with $35 million to be cut from Tourism Australia over the next four years while visa application charges will now be indexed in line with the consumer price index, raising an expected $410 million over the four years of the forward estimates.
TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond said instead of investing in tourism, the Federal Government has “handcuffed” Tourism Australia and jeopardised the growth of Australia’s visitor economy.
Osmond explained “the Treasurer announced a series of cuts and hikes that could have a serious and long-term negative impact on the nation’s visitor economy.
“At a time the visitor economy is on the verge of becoming a jobs and wealth-generating juggernaut, it was extremely disappointing to see it treated as a cash cow.”
Describing the cuts to Tourism Australia’s funding as a “low-light of the Budget”, Osmond added that the decision “put at risk tourism jobs right across the country - jobs that are dependent on the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to our shores off the back of Tourism Australia’s destination marketing.
“We simply cannot grow the visitor economy to its full potential in the face of extraordinary competition from other markets when the budget of our primary marketing vehicle is reduced.”
The budget saw the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) express its disappointment with the Government’s decision to not invest in a national convention bid fund.
AACB Chief Executive Andrew Hiebl said the industry will continue to advocate for the establishment of a bid fund to help entice more international conventions to Australia.
Hiebl stated “we stand ready to work with the Australian Government to design and implement this essential scheme.
“Around the world, business events are being used as strategic tools for attracting trade, investment and global talent. Governments invest in and support business events because they recognise the high yield and long-term benefits accruing from growth in the visitor and knowledge-based economies.”
TTF did welcome the budget’s allocation of $185 million over the next four years to improve the technology used to process visas to increase security and allow travelers to pass through more quickly and the $5.3 billion allocation over 10 years to begin construction of the long-awaited Western Sydney Airport.
Nonetheless, Osmond stated “overall, this budget is a disappointment to the visitor economy ... our concern is that the cut to Tourism Australia funding and the increase in visa fees will reduce the international competitiveness of Australia and seriously jeopardise the potential of the sector to boost Australia’s growth and create jobs.”
Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo noted the budget addressed key infrastructure needs and market priorities in the tourism sector and that the Government was also focussing on the important inbound China tourism market through the 2017 China Australia Year of Tourism.
Minister Ciobo stated “the Turnbull Government has chosen to grow the economy to secure more and better paying jobs in trade and tourism through free trade agreements and business tax cuts."
Image: The Federal budget puts tourism jobs at risk across Australia according to TTF's Margy Osmond.
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