Well done Australia, you’ve reappointed a Minister for Tourism.
As though listening to our prayers in last week’s coverage of the newly minted PM Turnbull, it would appear the travel industry is back on track.
The tourism portfolio has returned to the federal government ministry with the appointment of Senator Richard Colbeck as Minister for tourism, but while a number of Aussie tourism bodies have welcomed the move, they’re also warning us that the war isn’t over yet.
Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) CEO Margy Osmond has cautioned that the decision to leave the Tourism Minister, Sen Richard Colbeck, out of cabinet means tourism will continue to need strong support and advocacy from senior cabinet ministers Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb.
“Tourism is a critical part of the economy, an industry with nearly one million employees and which generates $100 billion worth of economic activity, so it must be seen at all times in a whole-of-government context,” Osmond said.
“I believe the overall thrust of this new ministry provides our sector with strong representation across the board.”
“Tourism will sit underneath the cabinet cluster of Foreign Affairs with Ms Bishop and Trade and Investment with Mr Robb, senior ministers who have a strong grasp of the issues facing our industry both domestically and internationally.
“The appointment to the role of Treasurer of Scott Morrison, who has a strong background in tourism and who understands its importance as a driver of the economy and a generator of jobs, will also be a positive development for our industry.
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) is another body that is cheering about the reinstatement of the Tourism Minister, saying it’s an encouraging sign that the value and importance of tourism is being recognised.
“While we would have preferred tourism to have a seat at the Cabinet table, we are confident that Senator Colbeck will represent tourism strongly,” TAA chair, and the last dedicated Federal Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, said.
“With Senator Colbeck coming from Tasmania, he will know the importance of tourism and its potential to create jobs and generate income.
“We will be calling on him to address a number of major issues that require urgent attention to drive future demand and ensure the industry is both competitive and responsive to the changing market conditions.
Ferguson is calling for a “clampdown on unregulated commercial accommodation”, as well as a priority to ensure workplace conditions are conducive, and a continued investment in tourism-related infrastructure, promotion and events to drive future tourism demand.
“The importance of the industry will require the continued support of Andrew Robb at cabinet level, as trade relations – particularly the Free Trade Agreements – will have profound implications for the growth of tourism from Asia. It will be essential for tourism to be aligned to future trade liberalisation,” he added.
The Australian Tourism Export Council is also smiling over the support the tourism industry has received with the appointment of a Tourism Minister.
“Prime Minister Turnbull has clearly recognised and understood the value of our industry and listened to calls for tourism to be reinstated as a ministerial-level portfolio and we congratulate him on his judgement,” ATEC’s managing director Peter Shelley said.
Shelley said ATEC had worked well with Minister Robb and his government colleagues since the tourism portfolio was removed following the 2013 election but there were real advantages to be gained with a focused minister.
“Unlike most other export sectors, tourism brings its customers to Australia and our industry faces unique barriers to success, and therefore our priorities are different,” he said.
“We hope he is excited about the industry and its future and will share with us an enthusiasm for the exceptional economic opportunities the industry can and will bring to Australia in the coming years.”