Istanbul Airport attack, the world’s longest election campaign, and tourism policies

Sad news out of Istanbul this morning with another terrorist attack on travellers this time targeting the main international airport. Following the horrendous scenes we saw at Brussels Airport only a few months ago it is a painful reminder of the vulnerability of the industry to appalling acts of violence directed against innocent travellers. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack and the Turkish tourism industry that will face the challenge of responding to the fallout from the latest attack.

Back in Australia, what feels like the never ending election campaign is finally within sight of its destination. The general community attitude is that it has been a disappointing and, quite frankly, a boring campaign.

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of both parties’ vision for the visitor economy – the super growth industry that will be the economic and jobs powerhouse for the coming decades with the right support from Government. What we’ve been subjected to is a spattering of announcements spread out across the country with no overall holistic plan to take the industry forward. This has been a marginal seats campaign with no ‘big picture’ view.

Labor released its tourism “fact sheet” on the weekend that summarises its previous tourism-related announcements through the campaign. There are some positive polices in this summary that industry can be happy with, such as the Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund and the Tasmania Tourism Investment Fund, investing in public transport, an audit of Australia’s tourist visa offering in key markets with a focus on growing the China market, and a review into the feasibility of reforming the Tourist Refund Scheme. These are good policy positions but it would have been good for Labor to show a bit more ambition by declaring its position on the Passenger Movement Charge.

But at least Labor has put a tourism policy on the table. We still eagerly await the Coalition producing its policy but, with only a few days left until polling day, it may very well remain in the ‘policy drawer’. The Coalition should release its tourism policy for the public record and declare whether it will continue to freeze the Passenger Movement Charge during this term of Government, as it did before the last election.

Both sides of politics really need to start lifting their game through the next term of Government to ensure that the visitor economy gets more than just positive words of support during press conferences but a real plan that will allow it to reach its full potential. TTF has put our Election Manifesto plan on the table during this election and we will continue to champion the reforms we need to support the industry through the coming months and years of the next Australian Government.