Tourism

Tourism industry scores new advocate in Turnbull cabinet reshuffle

Anne Majumdar

The tourism industry will have a new chief advocate in cabinet, with retiring trade and investment minister Andrew Robb to be replaced by Steven Ciobo after two years in the role.

Senator Richard Colbeck was appointed tourism minister in September by new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, but the new role was not made a cabinet-level position. This meant Robb, who was formerly responsible for the tourism portfolio although it had not been reflected in his title, retained some responsibility for the industry.

The Australian Tourism Export Council welcomed the announcement, describing Ciobo as a “long time supporter” of the tourism industry. He held the position of shadow minister for small business, the service economy and tourism from 2007 to 2008,. Most recently, he was minister for international development and the Pacific.

“We are excited to see him taking on a role where he can really champion the cause of tourism as a leading trade export for Australia’s economy,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“ATEC looks forward to reengaging Mr Ciobo in his new role and supporting him to deliver the voice of export tourism to the Federal Cabinet, which will be particularly important in this coming election year.”

High up on ATEC’s agenda is ensuring the government recognises the economic importance of the tourism sector and helping to establish the “right policy settings” to ensure the industry continues to thrive.

“This includes a push for a political focus on issues such as improving our visa system, building on our already strong marketing campaigns and addressing issues around attracting and retaining a reliable labour force – all issues which are crucial to keeping us on the front foot in a highly competitive international tourism marketplace.”

Shelley thanked Robb for his contribution to tourism including his work in securing free trade agreements and belief in and advocacy of the industry.

“Through his leadership he has been particularly effective in establishing a platform to grow the important Chinese tourism market by attracting significant Chinese investment into Australia which is a direct result of the investment roundtables he facilitated as Minister,” he said.

“We look forward to working with Minister Ciobo and other key Ministers, including the Minster for Tourism and International Education, Senator Richard Colbeck, to build the ongoing support that is critical to the future growth of Australia’s tourism exports.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia also reacted positively of Ciobo’s appointment, saying he had demonstrated his understanding of the potential of the tourism sector and its value to the economy throughout his time in Parliament.

“Mr Ciobo is an excellent successor to Andrew Robb, and with tourism now considered one of the country’s ‘first-tier’ industries, we are confident he will work closely with tourism minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, to provide positive advocacy for the industry,”chief executive Carol Giuseppi said.

Robb last week confirmed he was departing the world of politics to pursue a new career in the mental health sector and corporate world.

Meanwhile, Turnbull described the new line-up featuring Ciobo as “a dynamic team which combines youth, new talent, experience, continuity, and a real sense of innovation and enterprise”.

“It’s a team that’s focused on Australia’s future, focused on the policies that will encourage innovation and enterprise,” he said.

Image credit: iStock


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