Tourism industry leaders warn Destination NSW funding cut comes as market cools

The tourism sector in New South Wales has warned that a $35 million cut to Destination NSW’s budget is coming at the worst time in a market that is showing signs of coming off the boil.

While international and national total overnight visitor expenditure is now at a record $118.9 billion, there has been a recent slowing in growth of the number of international visitors, with NSW in danger of losing its position as the Australian leader in the tourism sector.

Strong growth in the Chinese market has led a boom in international tourism in recent years, but recent figures from Destination NSW suggest that is beginning to slip.

The data reveals 0.3 per cent growth in international visitation in the year to March, compared to 8.5 per cent growth over the same time the year before.

The Chinese market, which represents more than half of the overseas visitation to the state, dropped four per cent in the year to March.

“If there is a reduction in investment to the tourism sector it’s logical that, firstly, NSW will cede its position of the leading tourism government to the other states, it will give that back to them,” Accor Hotels Pacific chief operating officer Simon McGrath told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said NSW couldn’t afford to “take your foot off the accelerator”

“We have a level of concern, obviously, and a level of disappointment about this cut in funding,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s vital to recognise that great work has been done, but also equally vital that complacency is anathema in this set of circumstances. You can’t sit back on your laurels and say ‘well people will just keep coming’ because that’s not how it works.”

The NSW government cut Destination NSW’s Funding from $176 million to $141 million in the last budget.

“Destination NSW is just one of a number of NSW Government initiatives used to help promote tourism to encourage more visitors, international and domestic, to come to NSW,” said a spokesman for the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.

Shadow Tourism Minister Jenny Aitchison said the government was “cutting tourism operators at the knees”.

“Government should be helping the tourism industry during this downturn not pulling funding from it,” Aitchison said.