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Associations welcome Ciobo as Australia’s new trade minister

Official portrait Hon Hon Steven Ciobo MP

Australia’s key industry bodies have praised the Federal Government’s choice of Steve Ciobo to replace retiring Trade Minister, Andrew Robb.

Ciobo was elevated to the Trade and Investment Ministry from his current role as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Prior to that, he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade and Investment. Robb will continue his involvement in the trade portfolio till the election as ‘Special Envoy for Trade’.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said that Ciobo had shown throughout his time in Parliament that he understood the potential of the tourism sector and its value to the economy.

“Mr Ciobo is an excellent successor to Andrew Robb, and with tourism now considered one of the country’s ‘first-tier’ industries, we are confident he will work closely with Tourism Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, to provide positive advocacy for the industry,” she said.

“Andrew Robb proved himself to be one of Australia’s most respected and successful Trade Ministers, and we were extremely impressed with his grasp of the tourism industry and his desire to further its potential.

“He contributed significantly to the industry through his work in securing free trade agreements, bilateral airline agreements, and the promotion of development and investment in Australia, particularly in Northern Australia.

“Tourism and trade go hand in hand, as has been reflected by Australia’s outstanding inbound visitor figures over the past two years. We now attract over one million Chinese, and further reforms to visa processing and investment in tourism promotion can accelerate this growth.

“To have a successor with similar interests and experience of our sector will be welcomed by the whole tourism and hospitality industry.

“Ciobo has seen first-hand the importance of the tourism sector with his parents being involved in the industry in Cairns as he was growing up. He now represents the electorate of Moncrieff on the Gold Coast, which has Surfers Paradise at its heart, so few people in Parliament are better placed to understand the economic value that the tourism industry can deliver.

“The emphasis will need to be on driving demand through partnerships and facilitating greater flexibility in attracting labour and skills to meet the needs of a growing industry – and we are confident that the new Minister will provide support for the industry at the Cabinet table,” Giuseppi said.

The Australian Tourism Export Council has also welcomed the announcement.

“Steve Ciobo has been a long time supporter of the tourism industry and we are excited to see him taking on role where he can really champion the cause of tourism as a leading trade export for Australia’s economy,” said ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley.

“ATEC looks forward to reengaging Ciobo in his new role and supporting him to deliver the voice of export tourism to the Federal Cabinet, which will be particularly important in this coming election year.

“High on our agenda will be ensuring the Federal Government recognises the huge economic input being delivered by our increasingly successful export tourism sector, and helping to establish the right policy settings to ensure the potential of our industry is maximised.

“This includes a push for a political focus on issues such as improving our visa system, building on our already strong marketing campaigns and addressing issues around attracting and retaining a reliable labour force – all issues which are crucial to keeping us on the front foot in a highly competitive international tourism marketplace,” he said.

Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) CEO, Richard Munro, said the appointment of Ciobo clearly showed the Australian Government is backing tourism.

“The Prime Minister’s reshuffle of Cabinet has resulted in another key political win for the tourism industry, of which our sector, the accommodation industry, is one of the largest components,” he told HM.

“TSteve Ciobo, whose seat of Moncreiff covers the tourism mecca of the Gold Coast, has been elevated to Cabinet as the new Minister for Trade and Investment.

“Having been a Convenor of Parliament’s Friends of Tourism and a Shadow Minister for Tourism, the Minister understands our industry well and will be another strong advocate for growth. The Minister has been a long-time strong supporter of our industry and we look forward to engaging him on our priority policy issues.

“Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education (and a Senator for Tasmania) is also very engaged with the accommodation sector and last week the full Board of the AAoA met at TFE’s newest hotel, the Vibe in Canberra, with Senator Colbeck to discuss current issues and the future of our industry.

“Topics of discussion were demand drivers for our industry, statistics collection, review of the premises standards (ratio of accessible rooms), regulation and taxation, as well as many more issues that affect our members’ businesses, confirmed through the survey the AAoA has just undertaken with our members.

“It has to be said that the tourism industry is being recognised by government as a strong contributor to GDP and Australia’s exports and we look forward to working towards further growth with the Government and Opposition,” Munro said.

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has also congratulated Ciobo on his appointment.

AACB CEO, Andrew Hiebl said: “Minister Ciobo is a friend of the business events sector, having pitched the most supportive policy package that the industry has seen in recent history during the 2010 federal election campaign as Shadow Minister for Tourism.”

The package included a Business Events Bid and Boost Fund of A$17.5 million over four years, as well as increased funding available to Business Events Australia of A$10.5 million over four years to increase its marketing capacity, and bringing Australia closer to its international competitors (Coalition Plan for Real Action on Tourism, 2010).

In the hung parliament that followed, the Coalition did not form government and the bid fund proposal was lost.

Through its 2016-17 Pre-Budget Submission, the AACB has called on the Australian Government to support its keystone policy of establishing a national bid fund of AUD$10 million per annum to help bring business events of national significance to Australia.

“Now is the time to bring this policy back to life in order to counter international competition, increase market share and build on the legacy that the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP has left the industry,” said Hiebl.

AACB President, Lyn Lewis-Smith said: “We thank the outgoing Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, for his recognition and understanding of the benefits that business events bring.”

“Minister Robb has shown unwavering support for the business events sector, which underpins more than 180,000 Australian jobs and is worth more than AUD$28 billion to our economy. From the start, he recognised that these high-yielding international conferences are an integral part of the government’s economic diplomacy and trade agenda.

“The Minister has championed, nationally and internationally, the new framework – Attracting Business Events to Australia: Role of Government Agencies. Since its launch in November 2014, this framework has helped to drive high-profile, strategically-aligned events to our shores.

“I wish the Minister much success in his future endeavours and thank him for recognising the significance of the sector to Australia’s interests,” Lewis-Smith said.

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