A focus on the supply-side challenges facing the Australian tourism industry and a whole-of-government approach must be the hallmarks of the government’s second term, following Martin Ferguson’s re-appointment as Tourism Minister, says the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).
Tourism directly employs nearly half a million Australians, almost half in regional and rural areas, and generates $92 billion in economic activity every year. It is Australia’s highest earning services export sector, bringing in $26 billion annually.
MP Martin Ferguson has been re-appointed asTourism Minister under the Gillard government.
TTF managing director Christopher Brown said the tourism industry faces significant challenges.
“The latest figures show that international travel to Australia rose by 3 per cent in 2009-10,” Brown said, “but while the increase is good news, it only returns us to 2008 levels, and Australia continues to lag behind growth levels in global tourism.”
“Developing new products and experiences is at the core of the National Long-Term tourism Strategy (NLTS), which provides a framework for the future devised after extensive consultation with industry.
“It’s vital that the government maintains its commitment to the NLTS, fostering conditions which are conducive to tourism investment, as well as at the very least maintaining funding levels for tourism marketing.
“We must continue to improve Australia’s tourism offering, delivering the attractions and experiences that visitors are seeking.
“Investing in new products, experiences and tourism infrastructure has the double benefit of enticing more Australians to travel at home, helping to address tourism’s balance of trade deficit”.
TTF noted a number of new appointments in the ministry that were of significance to the sector.
“Prime Minister Gillard’s appointment of Nick Sherry to assist Minister Ferguson in the tourism portfolio is recognition of the industry’s importance to the economy.
“Tourism is also a major regional employer, so we look forward to working with Simon Crean in his new Regional Development portfolio.
“In addition, we welcome Craig Emerson’s appointment as Minister for Trade, and are keen to continue our involvement in the development of Brand Australia.”