The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed visa measures outlined in the Coalition’s Plan to Back Australian Tourism Jobs released last week.
“The Coalition’s policy commitment to deliver on improved arrival and visa processing systems is welcomed by ATEC, as visa processing times have been a major challenge for our industry and an issue we’ve been highlighting for some time” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“Addressing the length of time it takes to process a visa application, and ensuring fast and efficient arrivals processes at the airport are important factors that will continue to contribute to Australia’s positioning as a sought after destination.
“We are pleased to see visas and processing issues are on the Coalition agenda, along with a benchmarking study which will identify our standing in this competitive area on the global stage.
“The additional support for airport upgrades and a genuine investment in industry supported tourism icon infrastructure development was to be applauded along with small business tax breaks which were announced in the budget.”
However, Shelley said the tourism export sector would be disappointed with the lack of additional marketing funds required for Tourism Australia to maintain its “world leading” tourism marketing program.
“It is disappointing that the call of the tourism industry, Australia’s second largest export industry, has not been recognised by the Coalition, especially when every one dollar invested in marketing Australia as a tourism destination returns $15 to $20 to the Australian economy,” he said.
The tourism industry contributed $57 billion to GDP, up 5 per cent on the previous year while the rest of the economy is only growing at less than 3 per cent, according to figures from the recently released the National Tourism Satellite Account. Inbound tourism alone contributed 9.3 per cent of total exports and employed 5.2 per cent of the workforce.
“We know that tourism drives growth and that this industry has become a powerhouse of our economy, however we fear the hard-won success achieved over recent years is under threat in the absence of a genuine government commitment to invest in the future potential of this industry,” said Shelley.