AFTA is unimpressed with the hand dealt to Aussie tourism in the Federal Budget delivered on Tuesday night. Citing lack of support for the Travel & Tourism industry, AFTA says the Government ‘missed the opportunity to harness the future that travel and tourism offers to the Australian economy for now and in the future.’
“It is disappointing that once again the travel and tourism industry is asked to pay significant taxes but appears to not have any significant support coming back to it. This government appears to think that the travel & tourism should be the door mat to the Australian economic future. It is simply not good enough and as an industry we should expect more,” said AFTA Chief Executive, Jayson Westbury.
According to AFTA, the following Budget measures negatively impact various sectors of Travel & Tourism in Australia:
- A new tax for employers who employ foreign workers on skilled visas, given that many SMOs in tourism employ foreign workers with specialised skills. Tourism businesses (with less than $10m turnover per year) will be required to make an upfront payment of $1,200 per visa per year for each employee on such a visa.
- The net Budget changes for visa charges will extract half a billion dollars from incoming travellers and visitors over the next eight years.
- Cuts to the Tourism Australia government funding of $35 million over the next four years.
- Additionally, the government refuses to make a decision on long-overdue reform of Australia’s tourism shopping system
The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), Australia’s leading tourism and transport advocacy group, concurs with AFTA’s overview of the latest Federal Budget.
“As the national economy continues to transition from the end of the mining boom to a diversified services-based economy, investing in tourism and transport as the key growth areas of the future should have been a no-brainer,” TTF Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, said.
“However, instead of recognising the tourism sector as the next super-growth sector, the Government has ripped $35 million out of Tourism Australia over the next four years, and in the process put at immediate risk tourism jobs right across the country – jobs that are dependent on the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to our shores off the back of Tourism Australia’s destination marketing.
“The harsh reality is that we simply cannot grow the visitor economy to its full potential in the face of extraordinary competition from other markets when the budget of our primary marketing vehicle has been so drastically reduced.”
Osmond is also disappointed with the changes to visas for Australia.
“Australia is now one of the most expensive countries in the world to obtain a visa for. This visa increase is an extremely short-sighted move that will make it even more expensive for international tourists to come to Australia,” Ms Osmond said.
“The task of competing against the multitude of other destinations for the international tourist dollar has just become a whole lot harder.”
However, the TTF does give the thumbs up to the Budget pledge to fund $5.3 billion over ten years to begin construction of the long-awaited Western Sydney Airport.
ATEC has called the Budget ‘beige’ and says it contains little to sustain growth in Australia’s export tourism industry.
“Australia has been a bucket-list destination for many years now but we can’t afford to rest on our laurels as a failure to invest in demand driver activities will see our competitiveness weaken over time,” said ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley.
“The 2% increase to visa fees, including tourist, working holiday and the 10 year visa for Chinese visitors, will be an additional barrier to international visitation.
“All in all, this is a beige budget for the tourism industry that continues to water down the effectiveness of Tourism Australia’s marketing budget by failing to even provide for CPI growth.”