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Govt tells Tourism Australia to dump domestic tourism

November 4, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Tourism Australia is to drop promoting domestic tourism to focus on its primary task of marketing Australia internationally. Domestic tourism promotion will become the task of the individual states and territories.

That’s the way things are shaping up, with Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who has overall responsibility for the tourism effort, saying Tourism Australia must focus solely on attracting overseas visitors.

“The time has come to hand domestic tourism marketing to the states and territories,” Robb told a tourism conference in Canberra.

Robb is understood to have already spoken to the states and territories about the transition.

The ABC quoted Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy, who will leave later this year to take up a senior events position with Fairfax, pointing out that the tourism industry is “internationally-focused”.

“We are an export sector. We are 8% of all exports. We are the number one services export,” McEvoy said.

Tourism Australia’s website describes the organisation as “the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia and encouraging Australians to travel domestically, both for leisure and business events”.

The domestic tourism aspect of the job, however, is more recent than the international focus. Tourism Australia evolved from the Australian Tourist Commission, a statutory authority established under the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987. Its primary task: to promote Australia internationally as a tourist destination.

Under the Act, the commission’s original principal objectives were “to increase the number of visitors to Australia from overseas” and to “maximise the benefits to Australia from overseas visitors”.

Tourism Australia is likely to revert to that task. Tourism Australia’s domestic promotion role came about with the Tourism Australia Act (2004), which added another objective: “To influence Australians to travel throughout Australia, including for events.”

Shadow Minister for Tourism, Anthony Albanese, takes a dim view of the coming change, saying the shift of focus amounts to Tony Abbott abandoning domestic tourism.

Albanese said Parliamentary Secretary for Industry Bob Baldwin had also cut tourism grants and flagged a move of T-QUAL quality accreditation back to industry, “increasing costs for operators unless federal funding is provided”.

Albanese pointed to statement by Baldwin: “The government will return responsibility of T-QUAL accreditation to industry. We will transition that by the end of the financial year. The government will also refocus funds from tourism grants to demand driven infrastructure.”

Albanese said that, on the face of it, it seemed the government was simply “looking for excuses to cut funding regardless of the consequences.

“Mr Robb and Mr Baldwin must clarify their intentions and guarantee that these changes will not increase the financial burden on an industry sector that employs more than half a million Australians, many of them in regional areas,” Albanese said.

“Walking away from domestic tourism promotion and leaving the burden to cash-strapped state governments is short-sighted and has potential to cost jobs.

“Our nation needs an integrated tourism strategy including leadership from the commonwealth and proper support for industry-led quality assurance, not total abandonment by government.

“The previous Labor Government created T-QUAL as a partnership between the Tourism Quality Council of Australia, the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and Tourism Australia. The system accredits quality assurance schemes with the T-QUAL Tick and is backed up by marketing that promotes accredited networks. It is designed to lift the quality of the nation’s tourism product.

“Mr Baldwin should be promoting improvements in our tourism sector, but appears instead to have seized upon it as a soft target for cost-cutting.”

Albanese accused the Abbott Government of having got off to a poor start in tourism.

“After taking office, the Prime Minister failed to appoint a dedicated tourism minister, before appointing two different ministers and two different departments to cover domestic and international tourism.

“Less than a month later, under intense pressure from the industry, Mr Abbott then combined the roles after realising that international and domestic guests stay in the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants and see the same sights as each other.

Australian tourism operators deserve better than cuts, confusion and incompetence.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. bruce weston says:

    not that agree with all the article but t-qual has been a total disaster to the accommodation industry and has created more ‘terror ‘ in operators minds than any achievement it ever hoped to do

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