With the federal government handing down its Budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year last night, Travel Weekly has dissected it just for you, dear reader.
To kick off our succinct Budget recap, the government has committed $50 million over three years to create and invest in iconic tourist attractions. The government hopes the National Tourism Icons Program will drive tourism growth, create jobs and diversify local economies.
The government is also maintaining funding for Tourism Australia to continue to promote Australia overseas, which it is also banking on to drive tourism growth, particularly in regional areas.
Government funding for Tourism Australia in 2019-20 includes appropriations of $135.6 million, $14.0 million for the Asian Marketing Fund, and $2.5 million for the Working Holiday Makers visa program (which has been extended by one more year).
Furthermore, Tourism Australia’s involvement in Implementing Sport 2030 program (support for the International Cricket Council T20 World Cup) is a new two-year commitment with $2.0 million in 2019-20 and $3.0 million in 2020-21.
As widely expected, the government has also committed $100 million to upgrade regional airports.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said the Regional Airports Program will ensure airport facilities meet the needs of communities and local industry now and into the future.
“These airports are vital for our regions, ensuring access to emergency services and providing a link to domestic and international markets and employment opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NSW accommodation sector received welcome news last night of a financial injection for a skills package in the Budget.
Federal government support for the skills package will include a $525.3 million contribution to improve the quality of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system nationwide.
Of that, $200.2 million will go to a new apprenticeship incentive aimed at creating 80,000 additional apprentices nationally over five years in priority skills shortage areas.
The incentive will double existing payments to employers to $8,000 per apprentice placement. New apprentices will also receive a $2,000 incentive payment.
Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW acting chief executive Dr Adele Lausberg said the association had been running its own industry programs to address the sector’s labour challenges, but federal government support was needed.
“We currently have an investment pipeline of approximately 3000 rooms in NSW over the next three years, which obviously creates an ongoing need for skilled and managerial staff, so we can’t afford to have a failing labour force,” she said.
“We welcome new training measures along with programs to develop better pathways to long-term careers and we look forward to working with the government to ensure the accommodation sector in NSW is able to benefit from this investment.
“This Budget starts to address the importance of developing a strong and connected workforce that can help deliver better outcomes for tourism, and particularly the hospitality sector, in NSW.”