Tony Abbott is turning his back on billions of dollars in potential revenue from Chinese visitors after abandoning key election promises and slashing support for Australia’s tourism sector.
China is the Australian tourism industry’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound market, with a record number of Chinese visitors delivering $4.8 billion to the Australian economy in 2013.
Forecasts by Tourism Australia show the Chinese visitor market could generate up to $9 billion to Australia every year by 2020.
But since coming to office the Abbott Government has systematically dismantled support for Australia’s tourism sector – cutting grants, and business advice which assisted Australia’s 280,000 tourism businesses and abolishing a long-running ABS survey relied upon by investors.
This month the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb confirmed that Australia Week in China would not go ahead in 2015.
There is no sign of new tourism infrastructure promised before the election, and instead of transferring the national tourism accreditation framework (T-QUAL) to industry the Government abolished it.
Australia’s tourism sector has also been locked out of Tony Abbott’s competitiveness agenda, despite being promised priority in government before the election.
There is not even a Minister for Tourism.
Reports published last week show Australia is slipping down the list of Chinese visitors’ most searched-for destinations online.
The news comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to visit Canberra on Monday to address the Australian Parliament.
It is time Mr Abbott started taking Australia’s tourism industry, and the nearly one million people it employs, seriously.
Appointing a Minister for Tourism would be a good place to start.