Aug 5, 2014

Abbott’s razor gang fails on tourism

Tony Abbott’s hand-picked Budget razor gang did not bother to consult Australia’s peak tourism body before recommending its funding be slashed by half, it has emerged.

Tourism Australia has revealed in answers to Senate estimates committee questions that Mr Abbott’s Commission of Audit made no attempt to ask its experts about the potential effects of its proposed funding cut to an industry that employs a million Australians.

The news confirms that the commission’s report was nothing more than a wish list put forward by Mr Abbott’s friends in big business to legitimize massive cuts to government spending and direct breaches of election promises.

Its recommendations say more about the ideological prejudices of its authors than improving Australia’s economic prospects.

Tourism Australia is responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia and increasing the economic benefits of tourism to the national economy.

The majority of Tourism Australia’s funding goes to international tourism marketing, with $56.7 million being invested between February and June 2014.

New figures show that every $1 million invested in international tourism marketing, Australia gets a $16 million return to the national economy.

But despite this, Mr Abbott is systematically dismantling support for the sector, having flick-passed responsibility for domestic tourism to states and axed grants and key data surveys and quality control programs since coming to office.

It is clear Mr Abbott does not understand the multiplier effect of tourism investment in the Australian economy.

He does not even have a minister for tourism, which consulting firm Deloitte has named one of five super-growth sectors that will be a key driver of jobs and prosperity over the next decade.

It is time the Abbott Government starts taking tourism seriously.

Appointing a Minister for Tourism would be a good start.