Domestic tourism growth has stalled in the key markets of Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT following Tony Abbott’s cuts to domestic tourism marketing.
New figures published by Tourism Research Australia show trip expenditure down 11% in the ACT, 8% in Tasmania and 2% in Queensland in the year ending June 2014.
They also show visitor nights down 16% in the ACT, 12% in the Northern Territory and 3.4% in Tasmania as tourists cut trips short, staying fewer days and spending less.
The figures come a year after Tony Abbott ordered Tourism Australia to end all marketing of domestic tourism and focus solely on overseas arrivals.
Domestic tourism is the bread and butter of Australia’s tourism sector, accounting for 70% of the $107 billion industry.
But instead of supporting the sector, the Abbott Government has spent the last 12 months abolishing grant programs, slashing research and cutting support without notice.
The Tourism Industry Regional Fund and the National Tourism Accreditation Framework have been axed while the crucial Survey of Tourist Accommodation will cease next year.
Newly released guidelines for the Abbott Government’s small business program, the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme, make tourism businesses ineligible for assistance.
The former Labor Government provided assistance to tourism businesses through its Enterprise Connect program which Tony Abbott abolished as part of his 2014-15 Budget cuts.
It is little wonder tourism is suffering under the Abbott Government.
Upon taking office, Mr Abbott failed to appoint a tourism minister, showing that he simply does not consider the sector a priority.
His approach stands in stark contrast with New Zealand, where Prime Minister John Key is also the Minister for Tourism.
The Commonwealth Government should be the Australian tourism sector’s best friend, not a thorn in its side.
Appointing a Minister for Tourism would be a good place to start.