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Tourism Australia funding cuts slammed

Sydney Harbour

Industry has come out slamming the proposed National Commission of Audit report, which says the Government should cut funding to Tourism Australia in half.

AAA, TTF and TAA all agree the move would dramatically impact business, local jobs and investment prospects for Australia.

“The accommodation industry is strongly opposed to the recommendations in the National Commission of Audit report that funding for Tourism Australia should be halved and that Tourism Australia should be consolidated in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” said Accommodation Association of Australia CEO, Richard Munro.

“These recommendations have come as a shock to the accommodation industry and if implemented, have the potential to risk private-sector investment in our industry.

“The accommodation industry is against any cuts being made to Tourism Australia and it strongly supports the retention of Tourism Australia in its current form.

“We call on Minister Robb to confirm these recommendations will not be realised.

“The tourism industry is one of Australia’s largest and most important industries and it directly employs 543,600 people.

“Any cut to the funding of Tourism Australia and/or consolidating it into the department would severely damage Australia’s ability to compete with other nations for the international tourism dollar, particularly as other lower-cost destinations in Asia are investing significantly in tourism marketing.

“On behalf of the accommodation industry, the Accommodation Association will write to the Federal Government to ensure that it is aware of our industry’s views on the level of support for Tourism Australia.

“Other proposals in the report would also hurt tourism, if they were to become a reality. These include ceasing funding for Export Market Development Grants and tourism industry grants,” he said.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has called on the Government to reject the Commission of Audit’s recommendation to make major cuts to Tourism Australia.

“The tourism and hospitality sector has been consistently identified as one of Australia’s principal growth industries for the future, with the capability of employing thousands of new workers, generating significant foreign income, and producing a strong flow of tax revenue for the Government – it would be very short-sighted if the Commission of Audit recommendations were to be adopted,” said TAA Managing Director Rodger Powell.

“The accommodation sector is driven by marketing, and that’s the chief function of Tourism Australia.

“Destination marketing has become highly competitive and sophisticated in recent years and Australia is already significantly outspent in our principal source markets. There are major tourism infrastructure projects being planned around the country, and to justify these projects we need to build our market share, which can only be achieved by a well-resourced and professional national tourism body. This responsibility can’t be devolved to States, people generally come to Australia, not one State.

“It is not simply about advertising, it is about working in our key source markets to ensure that Australia wins its fair share of business, and Tourism Australia has been doing that very effectively in recent years.

“The vast majority of accommodation businesses are too small to be able to fund significant marketing efforts in international markets on their own, and the TA marketing and co-ordinating roles have been very significant for a vast range of enterprises, which allows them to grow their business, employ more people and contribute more income to the economy.

“Tourism Accommodation Australia members call on the Government to reject the Commission of Audit recommendations, and keep on the path that they have commenced under Andrew Robb’s leadership. In fact, we call on the Government to do the opposite of the recommendations and increase Tourism Australia funding so as to capitalise on the recent free trade agreements. If jobs and revenue are the key priorities of the Government, to cut back the tourism and hospitality sector would be a counter-productive move.”

TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the proposal is a “dumb idea”.

“Tourism Australia’s work is helping the tourism industry deliver AUD$42.3 billion in direct GDP each year,” Morrison said.

“While there are a number of constructive suggestions in this report, halving Tourism Australia funding is not one of them.

“Only the government can market Australia as a destination to the world.

“Tourism Australia is recognised around the world as one the most effective national tourism marketing bodies and must remain a statutory body governed by experts.

“The reality is that international visitors spend $80 million across Australia every single day.

“It is an industry which supports 900,000 jobs and 280,000 businesses.

“For every dollar earned in tourism, another 87 cents washes around the rest of the economy.

“If adopted, this proposal would undo years of investment that have positioned the industry on a growth trajectory.

“The Australian government has identified tourism as one Australia’s key economic strengths. This recommendation flies in the face of this growth strategy.

“With the decline of the mining and manufacturing sectors, Australia needs the visitor economy to deliver sustainable growth and jobs into the future.

“Only our competitor countries would benefit from Australia halving its international marketing efforts.

“Tourism is Australia’s largest services export, generating $28.9 billion in international visitor expenditure each year.

“The upcoming budget needs to position Australia for growth and cutting funding to Tourism Australia is an anti-growth measure.”

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