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Hopes rise that Tourism Australia will dodge budget bullet

May 13, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Has Tourism Australia dodged the bullet of budget cuts? It certainly seemed so yesterday when Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb addressed international journalists at the opening session of the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE14) in Cairns.

After praising the vital role of Tourism Australia, Robb said: “we are actually increasing the budget for Tourism Australia because it’s one of the drivers of prosperity”. The Federal Budget, which will set Tourism Australia’s funding for the next financial year, will be announced tonight.

Robb later reiterated the encouraging words, saying in answer to a question: “I have just mentioned that this year we are increasing the budget for Tourism Australia.”

Australia's Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb at ATE14

Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb at ATE14

Robb did not disclose how much the funding would be. On both occasions, he followed the statement immediately with another about the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme, leading some in the audience to suspect a looming link between the two.

The EMDG is a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters, administered by Austrade. Austrade was one of the agencies slated by the National Commission of Audit for cutbacks, along with Tourism Australia. The EMDG scheme supports a range of industry sectors and products, including inbound tourism but also including, for instance, the export of intellectual property and expertise beyond Australia.

Robb said the Budget would increase the EMDG by AUD 50 million dollars, all available to  “small operators who want to develop, international markets”, such as “hospitality operators who want to sell their wares into appropriate markets”.

In an encouraging sign for tourism, a leaked list of 70 government agencies targeted for budget cuts and published yesterday did not include Tourism Australia.

Robb was certainly positive about Tourism Australia and Australia’s tourism prospects generally.

“I was talking in Hong Kong recently to the CEO of one of the largest airlines in the world,” he told his audience. “He said to that he wanted to report to me as someone responsible for Tourism Australia, that he considered Tourism Australia the most effective tourism promotion organisation in the world. He said dollar for dollar they are far the best and very effective.”

Robb said the middle class in China and elsewhere in Asia was forecast to grow from 600 million to 3 billion over the next few decades and he was determined to ensure that Australia was the “first choice long-haul” destination from anywhere in Asia. It was an overnight flight but you woke in the same time zone, he pointed out.

Australia would need 20,000 new hotel rooms in the next five years, Robb said, so about 80 new hotels over the next five years.

His speech also touched on the lifting of the curfew at Brisbane Airport, and the Coalition Government’s determination to get rid of red tape, encouraging investment and private enterprise.

As for the Budget details, tonight is the night.

Written by : Peter Needham and video by John Alwyn-Jones

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