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Reaction to Labor’s 11th-hour launch of tourism policy

May 17, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

With an election tomorrow, the Australian Labor Party has launched its Tourism Policy 2019, a plan to drive tourism growth and create more jobs – drawing a generally favourable response from various industry groups.

Shadow Minister for Tourism, Anthony Albanese, described Labor’s Plan for Tourism as the most comprehensive tourism policy ever taken to an election, built upon years of consultation with the tourism sector. It would deliver record investment “to unlock the potential of this critical industry”, he said

Albanese, a high-ranking Labor stalwart and former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia,  said a Shorten Labor Government would “restore tourism to the heart of Australia’s economic narrative, recognising its importance as a super-growth sector for jobs and the economy”.

This would include restoring tourism’s standing as a key economic portfolio by realigning the tourism portfolio within a newly configured Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Cities and Tourism.

If elected, the ALP says it will consult with the industry to improve the Tourism Access Working Group and deliver a Tourism 2030 strategy.

Labor’s plan builds on longstanding commitments, including the allocation of AUD 1 billion to a Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund, investing in Kakadu National Park, rejuvenating Great Keppel Island and investing in key projects along the Shipwreck Coast as well as the Great Ocean Road.

Tourism icon, Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park

Labor’s additional tourism commitments include:

  • Investing AUD 120 million in key Tasmanian tourism projects to manage growing visitor numbers and unlock future jobs growth, as well as the state’s potential, as a world-class destination for domestic and international tourists.
  • Providing a AUD 25 million boost to Tourism Australia for domestic marketing and aviation attraction.
  • Establishing a First Nations Taskforce to work with tourism operators, industry, communities and other levels of government to investigate opportunities to showcase First Nations culture and history to visitors.
  • Growing regional tourism by building up existing tourism offerings, creating new tourism opportunities and supporting regional aviation.
  • Supporting business events by investing in research to guide additional investment, while supporting the work of the Bid Fund Program.
  • Levelling the playing field so that Australia’s accommodation providers have the ability to set their own prices so that they can compete with the multinationals behind the world’s largest online booking sites.
  • Investing in education and training, including AUD 6 million for the Quality Tourism Framework to improve and diversify Australian tourism products.

Shadow Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese

Additionally, Albanese said a Shorten Labor Government would invest in better rail, roads and more efficient airports in regional communities, helping tourism generally.

The full plan can be downloaded here.

REACTION TO THE PLAN from industry bodies varied, with most groups stressing their keenness to work with either the Coalition or Labor, depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s election.

The Tourism and Transport Forum welcomed Labor’s proposed restructuring of portfolios “as it recognises that infrastructure is critical to the future of the tourism industry and makes good sense”.

“TTF strongly endorses commitments to reform visitor visas to maintain and grow competitiveness, elevating the role of the Tourism Access Working Group and for no increase to the Passenger Movement Charge within the next term of a Labor Government,” TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said.

Cultural tourism in Australia

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) described Labor’s tourism policy as “a comprehensive package of ‘common-sense’ measures”.

Acting chief executive Bradley Woods said Labor’s Plan for Tourism would help deliver long-term growth for the tourism sector.

“In particular, we welcome Labor’s strong commitment to consultation with industry – and we look forward to being involved in ongoing policy development and in helping deliver a Tourism 2030 strategy if Labor is successful Saturday,” he said.

“TAA is also pleased to see acknowledgement of the need to ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to price parity, so Australia’s accommodation providers would be able to actually set their own prices so they can compete with the huge multi-national run booking sites.”

Tourism and its value. Tourism Research Australia figures.

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) liked Labor’s Plan for Tourism with its “particular focus on regional tourism development”.

ATEC was disappointed, however, at what it called “a lack of investment in international marketing for our major marketing agency, Tourism Australia”.  It said that despite the announced AUD 25 million boost, “this money is earmarked for domestic marketing and aviation route development which will do little to grow and expand our international market share”.

ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley welcomed Labor’s specific mention of visa issues as an inhibitor of industry growth, a key challenge that ATEC has pointed out for years.

 The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) had not released a specific response at press time to the Labour Plan for Tourism, but in comments on the election issued earlier, AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said polls indicated any result was possible, and for the industry, the key was that one or the other party “wins with a majority in the lower house so that they can actually govern for the people”.

Written by Peter Needham

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