May 19, 2014

Abbott breaks promise to increase tourism funding

Tourism operators promised more funding in the 2013-14 Budget have been left with less after the Abbott Government cut funding to Tourism Australia.

Despite Mr Robb’s promise just the day before the Budget that Tourism Australia would receive an increase, the Budget papers show the agency will have fewer resources this year than last year.

“We’re actually increasing the budget for Tourism Australia because it’s one of the drivers of prosperity” –  Andrew Robb

Aussie tourism set for boost’, 12 May 2014
Link: Tourism Australia Budget Statements, Portfolio Budget Statements, p.173.

It is clear that the Coalition’s failure to appoint a Tourism Minister, leaving Australia without one for the first time in more than 40 years, is hurting the sector and making it an easy target for cuts around the Cabinet table.

Mr Robb’s Budget announcement on tourism also tries to disguise cuts of more than $7.5 million to the Tourism Industry Regional Fund (TIRF).

The Tourism Industry Regional Fund provided grants to regional tourism operators who could provide matching private investment for job boosting tourism projects.

Over 450 tourism operators had over $10 million in private matching capital ready to go for tourism projects before the government axed the program months ago.

That private capital, now lost, would have boosted regional economies and created jobs.

Every dollar spent in the tourism sector generates another 92 cents  across the Australian economy.

The Coalition Government should show some real interest in helping the tourism sector instead of breaking promises, costing jobs and hurting private investment.

It is little wonder that tourism lost in the Budget given the sector has no serious representation around the Cabinet table.