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Federal Government slammed for ‘abandoning’ tourism

Federal Government slammed for ‘abandoning’ tourism
June 11, 2014

The Federal Government has been slammed for abandoning pre-election commitments to tourism, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Ministry cutting funding for research of tourism trends, making domestic tourism funding a State responsibility and axing Round 2 of the Tourism Industry Regional Fund last year.

Australian Regional Tourism Network Chair David Sheldon is calling on all regional tourism organisations, industry leaders, associations and operators, to start “hounding” their State and Federal politicians in a last ditch attempt to get the current Government to reverse the decision of walking away from domestic marketing, before the deadline of 30th June.

While acknowledging the Federal Government for having frozen the international passenger movement charges, Sheldon explains that “to walk away from domestic marketing and leave it all in the hands of all States is a recipe for disaster.

“We, in regional Australia are a major contributor economically to this country and need to start a ‘ firm knock’ campaign to show our pollies we mean business.”

Sheldon also questioned Federal and State Governments’ commitment to the targets of doubling overnight tourism expenditure by 2020, noting the Queensland Government’s budget reduction of funds for Tourism and Events Queensland.

He asks “is this just the start of more such decisions and is the Federal Government setting the wrong example to the states at such a time?

“We in regional Australia have been gobsmacked by these decisions, ... it wasn’t that long ago that the previous Tourism Minister was proclaiming it a ‘disgrace’ that Australians had accumulated over 118 million days or over $33 billion in leave entitlements, hence the ‘no leave no life’ campaign.

“Now the Coalition starts sending mixed messages to the industry, on the one hand it says that it wants to back the country’s strength, with tourism recognised as one of the nation’s five ‘super sectors’, yet on the other hand walks away from that strength, firstly with odd decisions around the regional tourism grant program, and now with its pending exit from domestic marketing.

“From the regional perspective this Government should be ramping up domestic marketing to encourage our immediate market to discover ‘what’s in their own backyard.

“If this Government is as serious, as we are in regional Australia in achieving (the) goal of doubling the overnight expenditure, then programs which foster dispersal and encourage Australians to travel here at home via creative campaigns are the answer, not simply passing the baton onto the states.”

In the wake of Austrade officials confirming that they are cutting jobs at Tourism Research Australia, shadow Federal Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) criticised the Federal Government for a “complete lack of commitment to an industry that employs more than one million Australians and is critical to regional economies.”

Highlighting the lack of Tourism Minister in the Abbott administration, Albanese added “Mr Abbott pays lip service to an industry that employs almost one million Australians and is critical to the health of regional economies right across the nation.

“Research of tourism trends is critical to ensure our industry is working in step with trends in the industry.

”And domestic tourism promotion is also important given it accounts for 70% of Australia’s $107 billion tourism industry with overnight visitors spending $51.5 billion last year.

“But late last year Mr Abbott ordered Australia’s peak tourism marketing body, Tourism Australia to abandon all domestic tourism marketing activities.

“While Mr Abbott wants the states to handle domestic tourism promotion, it is already clear that cash-strapped state and territory governments are unable to deliver.

“Last week the (Queensland) Government slashed tourism funding by 20% in the Queensland bdget, leaving the state’s tourism sector with nowhere to turn.

“The Coalition Government also axed Round 2 of the Tourism Industry Regional Fund last year despite 450 tourism operators spending up to $5000 each to submit grant applications that included matching private capital, investment now lost.

“Instead of cutting funding, abandoning operators and slashing support for key publications, acknowledge the importance of tourism for the national economy and for more than 929,000 Australians whose jobs depend on tourism.”




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