As the Federal Budget countdown continues, the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) is urging the Turnbull Government to recognise the importance of Australia’s tourism and transport sectors and support their growth with continued investment.
TTF Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, called on Treasurer Scott Morrison to take advantage of the potential of both sectors to turbocharge Australia’s visitor economy by boosting the nation’s marketing budget, investing in critical transport infrastructure, improving visa competitiveness and establishing a bidding fund for international business events.
“As the national economy continues to transition from the end of the mining boom to a diversified services-based economy, investing in tourism and transport as the key growth areas of the future should be a no-brainer,” Ms Osmond said.
“The tourism and transport sectors have long been treated as cash cows to top up the Government’s coffers. The Turnbull Government must understand that by backing tourism and transport, it is also backing a visitor economy that can become a jobs and wealth-generating juggernaut.
“The Government should support rather than squeeze these sectors, which are becoming increasingly important to Australia’s continued economic success.”
Ms Osmond urged the Government to deliver and progress an innovative investment strategy that will grow the economic contribution of the visitor economy and generate a solid, long-term return on investment to Australian taxpayers.
“Key to this is maintaining Tourism Australia’s funding in real terms,” Ms Osmond said. “Expenditure on tourism marketing delivers great value for money, with analysis undertaken by Tourism Australia estimating its return on marketing investment is around 15:1.
“This means that for every $1 million spent by Tourism Australia on promoting Australia, $15 million is generated in additional tourism expenditure.
“The TTF is also calling for the Federal Government to improve national productivity and the liveability of our cities by working with the States and Territories to build vital public infrastructure projects.
“At the top of the list must be a funding commitment to kick-start the Melbourne rail link, a high-speed rail link between Western Sydney Airport and the CBD, and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.
“After years of inaction on both sides of the political spectrum, the Government should also be looking closely at making our visa system more competitive or risk losing out to other destinations.
“Visa costs and processing times can act as a barrier to travel to Australia for international tourists, especially if travelling to competitor markets is easier and cheaper.
“TTF is calling on the Government to increase funding for visa processing, improve the competitiveness of visitor and working holiday visas, continue investments in world-leading biometric technology and automation to minimise the time taken to process visa applications, and investigate the potential for a single visa with New Zealand for key source markets.”