Tourism & transport: Turnbull & Shorten should use headland speeches to outline vision for Australia’s super growth industry

The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to use their headland speeches at the National Press Club this week to outline their visions to support the continuing super-growth of Australia’s visitor economy.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is scheduled to address the National Press Club on Tuesday followed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.

According to the latest ABS figures, the visitor economy grew at a rate of 7.4 per cent in 2015-16 – that is more than three times the growth of the total Australian economy (2.3 per cent) and the sector supports one million jobs.

“These two headland speeches to the National Press Club are the opportunity for both major party leaders to demonstrate their commitment to backing the industries that will underpin Australia’s economic success over the coming decades,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.

“The tourism & transport sector is a jobs and wealth juggernaut for Australia’s economic future but we will not reach our full potential without government finally recognising that increasing taxes and charges and failing to make the necessary infrastructure investment in the industry is the wrong approach.

“Successive Australian Governments have been complacent when it comes to investing in the future success of the visitor economy instead viewing the industry as a ‘cash cow’ for new taxes and higher charges.

“Last year’s backpacker tax and the increase in the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – are the latest in a long line of examples of the Federal Government putting their hand into the wallets of visitors while investing little back into the industry.

“Enough is enough. Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten should use their headland speeches to rule out any further increases in the cost of travel for our international visitor market. The message to both leaders is we cannot be a ‘cash cow’ for government.

“The holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – alone raises more than $1 billion a year of which $750 million is estimated to be pure profit for the Federal Government. How about investing more of that back into the industry so we can attract more visitors and create more jobs?

“It’s time for both leaders to show their longer term vision for Australia by committing to a future economy strategy that puts tourism & transport and the other sectors that will underpin the future success of our economy front and centre of the national debate.”