Ken Morrison photo - EDITED

The intervention by Austrade to extend the Survey of Tourist Accommodation (STA) for 12 months is welcome, but the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) is calling on the federal government to commit to long-term funding for the research and for the data to be released quarterly.

TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the survey is invaluable and must be maintained.

“The stay of execution granted to the Survey of Tourist Accommodation by Austrade is most welcome, but it does not secure its long-term future,” Mr Morrison said.

“If the federal government is serious about tourism and attracting tourism investment, the Survey of Tourist Accommodation must be retained with data issued on a quarterly basis.

“It’s hard to say Australia is open for business without providing the basic tools that allow potential investors to assess the market and make sound decisions.

“The Austrade offer covers the 2013-14 financial year – which finishes next Monday – so our investment blind spot starts from Tuesday, 1 July.

“This is an unacceptable level of uncertainty for Australia’s $110 billion tourism industry.

“Industry needs confidence that it is being taken seriously as an economic development strategy for Australia that can generate expenditure and support jobs growth and business activity nationwide.

“We have written to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and key ministers to express our vehement opposition to the ABS’s decision to discontinue the survey, explaining its worth as a public good that provides crucial information to the sector and far broader economic benefits.

“The decision undermines the stated policy objectives of the Australian and every state government to double tourism expenditure by 2020.

“It also undermines the stated position of the federal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and his state counterparts that tourism investment is a priority.

“Actions speak louder than words and reinstating the funding for the Survey of Tourist Accommodation would demonstrate a commitment to supporting tourism as a growth industry that can help to deliver prosperity as mining investment and heavy manufacturing decline.”

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management