Tourism

Tourism policies under fire from Albanese

Hannah Edensor

Anthony Albanese MP has called for the government to take a good look at what is wrong with Australian tourism.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Albanese took up some issues on tourism, including the new backpacker tax and the recently axed Survey of Tourist Accommodation.

The newly established backpacker tax will mean that some 134,000 working holiday visa holders will lose the tax-free threshold of $18,200 which will then increase from July 1, according to Albanese.

“They stay some eight months on average and they earn on average $5,000, but the point is they spend $13,000 while they are here—a net gain of $1.3 billion to the economy,” he said.

“I am wondering what modelling the government did, prior to this change, on the economic impact, particularly on regional areas. In many regional areas, the tourism sector relies upon this workforce.

“The point is: not only do they contribute indirectly by making sure that those tourism hotels and facilities are able to operate where there is a shortage of what is often seasonal labour but they also spend the wages that they earn in the local economy while they are there.”

Albanese also raised the issue of the survey of tourism accommodation, which he said is imperative to learning more about how to enhance the tourism industry.

“I believe very strongly that the sector is right in asking for this survey to be reinstated,” he stated.

Quoting Victoria Tourism Industry Council’s ceo Dianne Smith, Albanese said, “This will severely hamper the industry’s ability to learn, grow and realise its potential.”

“One of the roles of government is to provide that evidence that forms the basis of good policy. It seems to me that this is a very short-sighted approach.”

And the loss of funding for Tourism Australia in the budget was high on the priority list of issues to address.

“Our most important marketing body generates some $16 returned to the economy for every dollar spent,” Albanese said.

“The government has cut funding in real terms each year since being elected. The Parliamentary Library, in a paper that has been produced, described the cuts as significant. With the tourism grants cut for round 2 of the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund, some 450 applications were submitted. They lost, therefore, $10 million of matching private investment in the process.

“Also, will the government reconsider its views toward the axing of all domestic marketing of tourism here in Australia?”

“It is pretty clear that tourism is a super growth sector for the Australian economy,” Albanese added.

“It contributes $107 billion to the national economy. Every dollar spent in tourism generates another 92c in other parts of the economy. I feel very strongly that the government needs to take tourism seriously and not just have it as an afterthought.”


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