Tourism Australia’s funding has been slashed by $36 million despite the sector facing an uphill battle luring overseas visitors back in a post-pandemic landscape.
The Albanese government’s first Budget has cut Tourism Australia’s funding from $214 million to $178 million in 2023, with a further $2 million cut to $176 million by 2025.
The Treasury stated that the cut was “due to the temporary nature of the government’s additional tourism marketing campaigns as international travel resumes”.
Tourism Australia’s budget was increased in 2021 to help it mount a comeback with new campaign Ruby the Roo.
Tourism Minister Don Farrell was silent on the budget cut in his official statement, instead focusing on a $48 million commitment to upgrading caravan parks and alleviating the staffing shortage.
“We know the last few years have been incredibly challenging for the approximately 300,000 Australian businesses in the travel and tourism industry,” he said.
“The Albanese government is committed to growing and rebuilding the sector to return to the economic powerhouse we know it to be and has committed $48 million to support this recovery.”
Australian Chamber’s tourism executive chair John Hart offered tentative support for the budget but called for “more to be done to assist with post-pandemic recovery”.
“Before COVID-19, Australia was one of the highest yielding destinations in the world. It’s essential to invest in tourism recovery and get the export revenue back to boost the Budget for next year,” Hart said.
“A greater investment in targeting marketing initiatives to accelerate international tourist and backpacker arrivals will increase Australia’s capacity to attract visitors in a highly competitive international market.”
The Accommodation Association also welcomed the extra funding for the Hub platform to help with the skills gap and staffing shortages in the sector.
“No matter where you go across Australia, the biggest challenge we are all facing as Australia’s travel and tourism sector gets back to normal, is filling the skills shortfall and workforce gap created during Covid,” said Accommodation Association President Leanne Harwood.
“Tonight’s announcement of $10 million in training and skills development will go a long way in helping us attract, educate and re-train the 100,000 staff we need right now including supporting more First Nations Australians, people living with a disability, and older Australians.”
The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) said the budget’s further investment in the Quality Tourism Framework will help small businesses.
“ATIC congratulates the Labor government in supporting small and medium businesses in the tourism sector via the Quality Tourism Framework,” said ATIC Deputy Chair Shaun de Bruyn.
“This will help our visitor economy to remain competitive and support a sustainable tourism sector.”
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said the industry faces a tough restart with inbound visitation still lagging well behind numbers seen leading up to the 2020 border closures.
“While indications show our air capacity will start to return as we head into 2023 our industry’s challenge will be to ensure we are able to facilitate the smooth conversion of inquiries into bookings and we will need the strong support of government to help us address the imbalance between Australian holiday makers heading overseas and the slower take up of the inbound market,” said ATEC managing director Peter Shelley.
“A commitment from governments, both state and federal, to support the rebuild of our industry will be a crucial factor in helping to recover our $45 billion export tourism industry and get visitors back to our destination.”