Two prominent industry bodies have hit out at the NSW government’s decision to cut funding for its tourism agency by more than $35 million in the next financial year.
Yesterday, the state government revealed it would reduce its funding for Destination NSW from $176.7 million in the current fiscal year to $141.1 million in FY20 as part of its new Budget.
In a statement, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said the funding cut was “a kick to the tourism industry and the success it has delivered the state’s economy over the past decade”.
“Despite the success of our export tourism sector, which has seen international visitation to NSW more than double in the past decade, the Berejiklian government has seen fit to make a 20 per cent cut to the budget of the very organisation which supports this success,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“In a fiercely competitive international tourism marketplace, it is vital Australia maintains its profile, and Destination NSW has been very successful in promoting NSW as a highly desirable destination.
“This is not the time to be cutting the budgets of our tourism marketing agencies and ATEC is highly concerned about how this cut will affect Destination NSW’s ability to continue to engage effective advertising campaigns in market.
“We are seeking more information from the minister’s office on what this will mean to the industry and what impacts we should expect to roll out of this concerning move.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW chief executive Michael Johnson said he was disappointed by the funding cut for Destination NSW.
“This move is short-sighted considering the competition for the tourism dollar from other states – in particular Queensland and Victoria,” he said.
“Sydney in particular has 10,000 hotel rooms currently in the pipeline. Now is the time we should be ramping up and promoting what our state has to offer.”
However, Johnson said TAA welcomed the NSW government’s $71 million package for an additional 100,000 free TAFE and VET courses over the next four years.
“These include 70,000 fee-free courses for young job seekers combining work and study through a traineeship – something we have pushed for as a way to address the skills shortages the accommodation sector faces,” he said.
“TAA NSW is currently working closely with TAFE NSW on developing specific recruitment strategies for young job-seekers including VET programs, so any boost in this area is welcomed.”
Among the other tourism-related announcements in the NSW Budget were:
- $76.6 million for the Sydney Opera House renewal program and security upgrades.
- $167.2 million to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and expand storage at the Museum Discovery Centre.
- $113.5 million to rejuvenate the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.
- $103.4 million for the Sydney Modern project to transform the Art Gallery of NSW.
- As part of the Restart NSW Commitment, Regional Tourism Infrastructure receives $103.7 million to fund critical regional tourism infrastructure.
- $25 million to go towards establishing the Byron Bay Sustainable Tourism Fund.
- $25.2 million to improve access to NSW national parks through upgrading and extending walking trails, improving visitor infrastructure and facilities, and introducing online and digital tools for virtual tours.