Australia is attracting record numbers of international visitors and needs to continue to invest in tourism initiatives in order to build on this export success, Australian Chamber – Tourism said today.
Australian Chamber – Tourism, part of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has released its Pre-Budget Submission spelling out practical ways the Federal Government can support the sector to continue its growth without putting further strain on the budget.
The Submission includes cost-effective ideas to streamline visa processes, overhaul the Tourist Refund Scheme, support infrastructure, fund promotional activities and improve workforce skills.
James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said “Australia’s tourism businesses are the export heroes of our economy, so strong support from the Federal Government would contribute to the creation of more jobs in the sector. Last financial year tourism generated $53 billion in economic activity, up 7.4 per cent on a year earlier.
“At a time when many export industries are in decline, tourism is growing significantly, with Australia forecast to welcome 8.3 million international visitors this year. Our record number of international arrivals is partly due to a softer Australian dollar and our attractive natural features, but we cannot take this success for granted.
“Our Pre-Budget Submission explains how the Government can harness our strong tourism position to achieve sustainable growth. The Government can expect to collect more than $8 billion in revenue from tourism, so it is prudent for some of those funds to be invested in initiatives to support the industry. We propose these spending initiatives be funded through reallocating existing funds or directing funds from the recent $5 increase to the Passenger Movement Charge.
“With Australia’s national debt nearing $500 billion, the Government is right to be careful in its stewardship of taxpayers’ money. Spending on programs needs to be allocated to those initiatives that generate a return, expand our economic base and create more jobs. I am confident that our tourism proposals will prove to be worthwhile investments.”
In its Pre-Budget Submission, Australian Chamber – Tourism recommends:
1. Improving international competitiveness through:
- Creating an Industry Growth Centre for the visitor economy within existing resources;
- Accelerating visa reform, including rapidly rolling out streamlined and online visa processes;
- Reforming the Tourist Refund Scheme;
- Cutting visa fees; and
- Restoring Tourism Australia’s funding in real terms.
2. Developing Australian product through:
- Developing a Visitor Economy Development Fund; and
- Funding to a program that develops infrastructure to drive demand.
3. Investing in labour and skills:
- Implementing the recommendations of the Austrade Tourism Labour and Skills Roundtable; and;
- Making the labour agreement process more flexible and accessible.
Australian Chamber Tourism’s Pre-Budget Submission is available on our website.