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Tourism industry performance and expectations are on the up with concerns over the impact of the dollar on tourism businesses falling sharply as the dollar has eased, the latest edition of the TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey has found.

TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the falling dollar had contributed to a spike in sentiment around international tourism.

“The survey shows that while tourism operators have seen an improvement in performance in Quarter 2, 2013 (+11 pts over Q1), they believe the lower dollar will have an even bigger impact for the current quarter,” Morrison said.

“Expectations for international tourism in Q3 jumped 19 points to a record high, with the lower dollar boosting the buying power of international visitors.

“While concern over Australia’s strong dollar remains the number one business impediment, its importance fell 18 percentage points in Quarter 2, 2013 to a record low 45 points.

“With tourism statistics showing growth in inbound arrivals and domestic travel, tourism is well-positioned to help Australia in the post-mining investment boom economy.

“So we are disappointed that while both major parties have acknowledged the need to plan for that future, neither has yet chosen to release a tourism policy ahead of the federal election.

“This is an industry which directly employs more than half a million Australians in 283,000 tourism businesses across the country and generates more than $100 billion in expenditure every year.

“Tourism can be an economic development strategy for Australia, providing job and business opportunities in every single federal electorate.”

The TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey has found a strong appetite for reform among industry, with near unanimous support for a review of penalty rates to recognise the 24/7 nature of tourism operations and continuing concern over the impact of tourism taxes and charges.

“We are keen to work with government to further improve the competitiveness of Australia’s tourism sector,” Mr Morrison said.

“Almost a third of tourism operators ranked taxes and charges among their top three business impediments for the last five quarters.

“In addition, the survey found that two thirds of tourism operators believe it is highly important to review penalty rates to recognise the 24/7 nature of tourism and hospitality.

“Taxes and charges and penalty rates reduce Australia’s competitiveness as a destination and we see an opportunity to work with government to address these issues.

“We are calling on all parties to commit to freezing and reviewing the exorbitant Passenger Movement Charge, which is the highest in the developed world for short-haul travel.

“Visa charges are also reducing Australia’s competitiveness in an extremely tough global marketplace.

“There is a real opportunity for Australia to capitalise on the potential of the Asian century by better aligning our foreign affairs, trade and tourism strategies but we need the policies in place to do that.

“Tourism can play an even more significant role in Australia’s economic future and industry looks forward to productive discussion and reforms with the next government.”