Jan 7, 2014

Abbott must get serious about tourism

Tony Abbott must get serious about the lucrative tourism industry, with even his own political allies now attacking his refusal to appoint a Minister for Tourism.

Former Howard Government tourism minister Fran Bailey and industry figures today called on the Prime Minister to lift his commitment to the sector, which contributes $98 billion a year to the economy and employs more than half a million Australians.

The industry is very nervous and restless about it when they can see the focus so many other competitor governments are putting into tourism. I would be hoping that as the government settles in and starts to reassess some of its appointments it will realise that a $98bn industry covering almost the whole of government does need a senior dedicated minister.”

Fran Bailey, The Australian, January 7, 2014


Ms Bailey is right.

With at least half a million jobs involved, Mr Abbott must make the health of this vital sector his business, not discount it as an after-thought.

Tourism matters to our economy and to workers and it should matter enough for the government to have a dedicated minister.

If we don’t take it seriously, the tourists whose visits generate jobs and economic activity in our nation will go somewhere else.

Labor, Ms Bailey and the tourism sector understand the need for a minister to ensure the industry is given the priority it deserves as a major employer.

Mr Abbott is the odd man out here and should admit his error and appoint a minister.

Since the Coalition took office, its administration of tourism has been a comedy of errors.

Mr Abbott initially forgot to assign the tourism portfolio in his first ministry, before belatedly handing it to Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Since then the Government buck-passed all responsibility for domestic tourism to state governments and has scrapped grants designed to lift investment in the sector.