Labor has launched its tourism policy ahead of May’s election, with tourism set to sit within a new department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Cities and Tourism.
The Labor Tourism Policy 2019 was welcomed by industry bodies, who praised the fact that it recognised the critical role business events play in driving the Australian economy.
The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) welcomed the focus on business events by both the Liberals and Labor, saying they are “small signs that we are cutting through”.
“We would have liked to see more take-up of the six pillars of the industry’s policy,” said EEAA chief executive Joyce DiMascio. “With our colleagues from BECA, we have campaigned on these with a united voice.
”Labor’s policy has been launched, and it specifically covers key elements of our pitch. Though no new money has been allocated, it has identified a range of policy initiatives that the EEAA and its BECA partners, AACB, ACCG, ICCA, MEA and PCOA, campaigned on.
“It opens the door a little wider for our sector and shows that we are slowly getting the message across about the enormous potential of our sector.”
However, EEAA said it was disappointed that no additional funding would be provided for Tourism Australia’s work in bidding for new events for Australia, despite the success of the Bid Fund launched in 2018.
“For the business events sector and the visitor economy to flourish, it is critical that the industry and government collaborate in the area of skills and we are pleased that under Labor there is a major focus on this area,” DiMascio said.
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) welcomed Labor’s focus on regional tourism development.
“Tourism drives growth, particularly in regional communities, and we are pleased to see that a Labor government’s plan for our industry has a strong focus on regionally located tourism infrastructure projects as well as a commitment to developing new experiences, aviation access and upgrades to existing iconic attractions,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“Australia’s continued export tourism success is dependent upon our ability to offer a diverse and evolving product, and regional destinations are key to this evolution so government support is crucial.
“We also welcome Labor’s plans for a ‘First Nations Taskforce’ which defines a collaboration between indigenous communities, tourism and government – all vital stakeholders in the successful and sustainable development of authentic Aboriginal experiences.”
However, ATEC was critical of the lack of further investment in marketing.
“Disappointingly, yet again, we are seeing a lack of investment in international marketing for our major marketing agency, Tourism Australia,” said Shelley. “Despite the announced ‘$25m boost’, this money is earmarked for domestic marketing and aviation route development which will do little to grow and expand our international market share.”
The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) said it was disappointed that neither side of politics committed to extra funding for the Bid Fund.
“On the other hand, however, both sides have committed to the continuation of the Fund, and that gives us a platform for further lobbying,” said BECA chairman Matt Hingertey. “We are particularly pleased that Labor directly adopted two of our signature issues, with a commitment to significant research into business events and an audit of business events infrastructure.”