Tourism Blueprint Falls Short – PM Should Apologise For Seven Lost Years
In the seven and a half years it has been in office, the Howard Government has virtually ignored the Tourism sector. At the same time, major international competitors have been acquiring international market shares by showing greater commitment to their tourism sectors.
Their financial contributions to, and support for, international marketing and promotion are growing at a faster rate than Australia's. The Howard Government's commitment to Australian tourism has been declining as many overseas countries have enhanced their market presence, images and competitiveness at our country's expense.
The additional money the Howard Government is belatedly promising for international marketing and promotion is "catch-up" as we head into an election year.
It falls well short of restoring the ATC's funding in real terms to the funding it received when Labor left office. Given the recent blows caused by factors such as SARS and international terrorism, our international marketing budget should have grown well beyond CPI adjustment.
John Howard should be apologising for seven lamentable years - new taxes, falling levels of commonwealth funding and reactionary programs have been the basis of his government's tourism policies.
Labor welcomes and supports both the new emphasis on domestic tourism, which is in the doldrums, and the additional money for research.
There appears to be no restructuring of or any additional money for the Tourism Division within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources which remains a very poor cousin of the former Department of Tourism established when Labor was in office.
Many key recommendations stemming from public and private submissions to the Green Paper have been bypassed or inadequately addressed.
Labor has always been a strong advocate for tourism. Labor will shortly unveil a comprehensive and integrated tourism industry strategy to secure the long-term future of our biggest export earner. "Sustainability", "Leadership" and "Coordination" will be the core themes of the strategy, which will balance economic, environmental and social goals and support the development of unified national accreditation and certification schemes.
Labor will in particular, focus on education, research and training under the key theme - "tourism careers, not just jobs".
Labor will build upon the commitments made today.