That’s a wrap on 2016, non-stop to London, China direct to Adelaide, and a great year ahead

Welcome to the final edition of TTF Circular for 2016. What a year it has been! There is not enough space to review everything that has happened in the last 12 months but we can all be very proud of the efforts and performance of the tourism, transport and aviation sectors at a time when other industries are struggling with an economy transitioning from mining to services.

Just in the last week alone, we’ve had some very exciting developments in our aviation. The first non-stop flights between London and Australia through Perth will be rolled out by Qantas in 2018 using the new Dreamliner aircraft. A significant milestone on its own that Australia will have its first non-stop link into Europe but the potential for these new types of aircraft to redraw the aviation links across the world cannot be understated. Australia’s geographic position puts us in the right place to take full advantage of more non-stop long haul routes.

Adelaide Airport has welcomed its first direct flight from China this week marking another historic achievement for Australia’s aviation sector. South Australia is on the cusp of joining what I call the ‘billion dollar club’ for international visitor expenditure – currently at $970 million in the 12 months to September it will no doubt cross that ten figure line in the New Year. Exciting times to be alive indeed as someone said this year.

We’ve seen the number of international visitors reach a new record – 8 million – and it’s growing at more than 11 per cent. Let’s not forget that our domestic tourism sector is performing strongly as well with more Australians than ever before exploring the beauty and wonder of their homeland. We’ll see the latest figures on domestic tourism next week. A fitting early present for the festive season.

But all the good numbers that we’ve been working so hard to generate this year have made us a target for a Federal Government looking for more money to balance the budget. TTF has fought a hard campaign for a common sense solution on the backpacker tax and we secured a deal with the Senate Crossbench for a five year freeze on any further increases in the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – in legislation. That is not a handshake. It is not a wink or a nod. It is in law that industry will have certainty on the holiday tax until at least 2022. A massive win for TTF and a real-world difference to the financial bottom line of many of our members.

TTF’s long-term advocacy for greater investment in public transport is paying dividends with a long list of major projects being rolled out in our major cities or on the drawing board. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have major metro rail projects either underway or being developed and these will fundamentally transform the way locals and visitors get around these cities. The Federal Government giving the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek the tick of approval is something many of us never thought we would ever see and it should be a symbol of what broad bipartisanship in our political system can achieve in the national interest.

Next year will be an important year for us. We’ve already fired a shot across the Federal Government’s bow calling on them to keep their hands off tourism and transport in next week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). These sectors are already making a strong contribution to the Budget bottom line and we’ll be campaigning hard through 2017 for a positive policy agenda that invests in the industry rather than treating it as a ‘cash cow’. Each Federal MP has at least 3,870 voters whose livelihoods depend on a strong and growing tourism. That means their decisions to increase fees and charges on the tourism and transport sectors have a real impact on their constituents. We’ll be making sure they get the message in 2017.

On behalf of everyone at TTF thank you for your ongoing support in 2016. I hope each and every one of you has a safe and enjoyable festive season. It is a very busy time for our industry over the summer holidays but don’t forget to have a little fun as well.

See you in 2017 – it is shaping us to be a big year for us all!