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Tourism industry hails Coalition win as good news

September 9, 2013 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Both the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) issued statements of support for Coalition tourism policy shortly before the Coalition cruised to an easy victory in the polls on Saturday.AFTA welcomed the leadership shown by the Coalition on tourism policy, particularly in regards to the Coalition’s position on the departure tax. The Coalition’s intention to make tourism part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rather than the Department of Energy and Resources, has been greeted warmly.

There is also a feeling that the convincing win, which will see a government firmly in place in its own right, will be good for business and the markets. The markets like certainty. Additionally, potential travellers such as self-funded retirees on a budget, will appreciate knowing what is likely to be in store economically. That may result in more of them travelling.

“The confirmation that the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) will remain unchanged for the first term of Government… is a vindication of the extensive efforts that AFTA and the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) have invested, in stopping the outrageous suggestion by the current government, to have the PMC indexed to inflation every year into the future,” AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury declared.

 

In the week before the election took place, Westbury said a Coalition win would “be a government for Tourism and for the 500,000 Australians working within the industry”.

“The PMC has been the current Government’s budget ‘plaything’ and they have used it to top up consolidated revenue for years. It is an anti-tourism tax and the industry can now have a level of certainty about the applicable level for the next three years”, Westbury said.

“Should the Coalition win on Saturday, we will then use the next three years to ensure that the PMC is appropriate and that collections are being used in the best interest of the industry and the nation.

“In addition to this commitment to the PMC, the Coalition has escalated the importance of the Tourism industry by confirming that the Tourism Department will become a part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is perhaps a far more appropriate place for Tourism to be situated than the last five years as a poor cousin of the Department of Energy and Resources.

“This also means that Tourism will be represented in Cabinet by the Foreign Minister and should that be confirmed as Julie Bishop, the Deputy Leader of the Party, Tourism will have a very important place in the leadership team of the Coalition Cabinet, should they win on Saturday.

“This is very good news for the tourism and travel industry and a most welcomed acknowledgement of the importance of travel and tourism in the services economy which is tipped to lead Australia to its next big boom.

“For far too long Tourism has lacked the attention of Government within the leadership team of both the Gillard and Rudd Governments and this has meant that the industry has had to do a great deal more lobbying and justifying to get outcomes, many of which never came under the current Government.

“This impressive change to how the industry will engage with a Coalition Government, with a minister responsible, most likely to be Bob Baldwin if shadow ministerial portfolios are confirmed, is a welcome relief”, Westbury said.

“The policy also announced a number of important Tourism related issues that have remained impediments to growth. These include the scrapping of the carbon tax, never welcomed by the Tourism and Travel industry, increases to the EMDG, having trade and investment focused on delivering fresh investment in Tourism products in Australia, a focus on international relationship via Tourism being a part of the Foreign Affairs and Trade agenda and good outcomes for small business with red tape reduction commitments and simpler taxes.”

MEANWHILE, TTF chief executive Ken Morrison said the Coalition policy included a number of commitments “which reflect TTF’s pre-election advocacy document, Australian Tourism: Backing Our Strengths – A National Agenda for the Australian Government.

“The policy lifts the focus on driving international tourism as an economic development strategy for Australia,” Morrison said.

“A key initiative is to bring tourism into the foreign affairs portfolio, creating an ‘economic diplomacy’ cluster with a new trade and investment portfolio.

“Australia needs policies which will ensure our economy continues to grow, because while the mining investment boom is subsiding, the people boom is just beginning.

“Demand for travel among Asia’s burgeoning middle classes continues to grow and we must ensure we have the right policy settings in place to ensure we can capitalise on those opportunities and today’s announcement is a good step in the right direction.

“Locating Tourism within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will enhance the relationship between Austrade and Tourism Australia and profile tourism consistently in a global context.

“In addition, there is a commitment to freeze the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) for the whole next term of the Parliament.

“This reflects industry’s concern over this exorbitant tax that affects the entire industry and hampers Australia’s international competiveness.

“We will be pushing for the PMC to be included in a review of Australia’s tax system that a future Coalition government has pledged to undertake as part of a tax reform white paper process.

“Refocusing existing tourism grant programmes on demand-driving infrastructure will ensure that investment is made where it will yield the greatest results across the visitor economy.

“TTF also welcome the commitment that a future Coalition government would maintain and support Tourism Australia and its important role in promoting Australia internationally.”

Edited by Peter Needham

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