Australia’s tourism sector has been locked out of Tony Abbott’s competitiveness agenda, risking billions of dollars in potential revenue and thousands of jobs.
Tourism is Australia’s largest services export and employs nearly one million people, contributing more than $105 billion to the economy each year.
Yet in a glaring omission by the Government, it was nowhere to be seen on the priority list of the competitiveness agenda released yesterday.
This is not good enough.
Consulting firms Deloitte, McKinsey, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Outlook Economics have all nominated tourism as a key growth sector with the potential to drive economic growth and prosperity for decades to come.
But since coming to office Mr Abbott has systematically dismantled support for Australia’s tourism industry, cutting grants to regional tourism operators, slashing a long-running ABS survey relied upon by investors and abandoning domestic tourism marketing.
Australia’s 280,000 tourism businesses have also been excluded for assistance from the Abbott Government’s business advice scheme.
The previous Labor Government provided assistance to tourism operators through the successful Enterprise Connect program, now axed by the Abbott Government.
It has never been clearer that there is no effective advocate for the tourism sector sitting at the Cabinet table.
Australia’s tourism sector deserves to be given priority on our national economic agenda and to be taken seriously by the Government.
Appointing a Tourism Minister would be a good place to start.