May 6, 2015

Abbott must lift tourism funding in budget

The Abbott Government must lift funding for tourism promotion in next week’s Budget to trigger jobs growth and make up for the cuts they tried to conceal in last year’s Budget.

With new research by the Parliamentary Library concluding that Mr Abbott cut tourism funding by $5 million in last year’s Budget, he should get serious and provide a real increase.

The Budget should reinstate funding for the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ long-running Survey of Tourist Accommodation, a critical tool for investors, business and governments which the Abbott Government axed upon being elected.

It should also provide funding for an Australia Week in China in 2015, bringing it into line with the annual G’Day USA trade fair, reflecting China’s importance as our fastest growing and most important source of overseas visitors.

Tourism employs nearly one million Australians and is our largest services export. Deloitte has nominated it one of five super-growth industries set to drive jobs and prosperity over the next 20 years.

report produced for Tourism Accommodation Australia showed a $16 return for every $1 invested in international marketing.

At a time when reduced commodity prices are reducing resource sector earnings, the Government should target tourism growth as a way to create jobs.

After last year’s Budget Trade Minister Andrew Robb sought to mislead Australians and the tourism sector about the nature of his Budget.

 “On marketing funding, last Budget I managed to preserve, and slightly increase Tourism Australia’s government funding in a tough fiscal environment, with record funding of over $143 million.”

Andrew Robb – Speech to the Tourism and Transport Forum – 19 February 2015

However, a new analysis by the Parliamentary Library shows cuts of nearly $5 million in real terms in 2014-15, equivalent to 3 per cent of the agency’s total budget.

These attempts to conceal ill-advised funding cuts must stop next Tuesday.

It is time for the government to get behind Australian jobs and business, but we know this Budget is all about saving Tony Abbott’s job, not about Australia’s future.

Mr Abbott could start addressing 18 months of misguided cuts and inaction by:

  • Restoring tourism grants funding for regional tourism businesses
  • Providing tourism operators with access to the small business advice program
  • Delivering on his own election promises to fund tourism infrastructure
  • Reinstating the Survey of Tourist Accommodation
  • Funding Australia Week in China in 2015
  • Appointing a Minister for Tourism