The Coalition has launched its tourism policy ahead of Saturday’s federal election, and key industry bodies have so far given it a positive reception.
Prime to the policy is shifting the tourism portfolio under Foreign Affairs and Trade, and a freeze of the Passenger Movement Charge at $55 for the whole next term of the Parliament.
Other aspects include the creation of a Minister for Trade and Investment, and a reinstatement of funding to the Export Market Development Grants programme, which will kick off with a $50 million injection.
The policy will allocate all funding from the Asian Marketing Fund directly to Tourism Australia, rather than having those funds allocated through the Department.
Also in a key move, it will see the return responsibility for domestic tourism marketing to the states and territories. Government body Austrade will hold responsibility for international investment attraction.
The Coalition reiterated its stance on the carbon tax and cutting red tape in relation to its proposed benefits for the tourism industry. Its 1.5% cut to company tax was also in the policy, which will see tourism businesses paying a new lower rate of 28.5% from July 1, 2015.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Dianne Smith said the policy recognises the importance of tourism to the economy.
“We are delighted to see the Coalition commit to supporting one of our state’s most important industries, and we look forward to seeing further commitment to the growth of the sector,” she said in a statement.
“The policy details many funding, structural changes and tax breaks that will assist the Victorian tourism industry to remain competitive and sustainable.
Smith welcomed the $25 million in funding for improvements to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, and also improvements to the visa process for Chinese nationals.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind told SmartCompany he was “encouraged” by the policy.
“It is pleasing to see the Coalition is clearly willing to engage with all areas of the tourism industry,” he says.
“The alignment of tourism and trade is a good arrangement because tourism is a significant contributor to Australia’s export and trade interests.”
He says QTIC was glad to see the proposal to align ministers and portfolios with tourism, which he says is a direction which has been “successfully implemented” by the Queensland government.
Gschwind also welcomed the freezing of the passenger movement charge.
Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner told The Australian the policy appeared to be “pretty positive”, but felt it was up the industry, not government, to solve tourism challenges.
The policy reported that tourism in Australia provides more than 500,000 jobs and accounts for $107 billion of economic activity.