AFTA view April 2017

JAYSON Westbury, chief executive AFTA

A white paper opportunity

Federal Government White Papers only come along every so often and they are an important process to enable the government to assess, review and consider broad policy areas in consultation with stakeholders and industries.

As it turns out, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced a Foreign Policy White Paper which will look to inform government on a framework for international engagement over the next five to ten years.

In fact, this Foreign Policy White Paper is the first since 2003 and the government has acknowledged that the international environment has changed considerably over the past 13 years and indeed Australia has a much broader and complex engagement across the globe. So the White Paper opens up an opportunity to help the government choose the path it takes on Foreign Policy for coming years.

AFTA has provided the government with a comprehensive submission which can be found on the website.

The paper outlines a critical belief that Tourism needs to be given broader consideration in a bilateral way. That is, Tourism and Travel, or inbound and outbound movements, need to have a policy framework that allows both aspects to be given proper and considered policy to ensure that the Australian industry is appropriately acknowledged.

We also highlighted the importance of the continuation and future investment in the Smartraveller program to ensure that the government’s engagement with Australians taking overseas holidays continues. Smartraveller has provided a solid strategy for information to flow to the industry and consumers, with detailed intelligence that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

Further, the overseas emergency response process established in DFAT is of great value and we strongly believe continued investment and a policy around Smartraveller is necessary.

The AFTA submission also highlighted the important facts of the comparison between the top inbound markets against the top outbound markets and recommends to the government that consideration should be made to enhance the bi-lateral economic impacts by bringing market balance where possible.

China is a clear example of this with 1.2 million inbound, but only 450,000 outbound. Even the USA with 700,000 inbound and over 1 million outbound demonstrates that fostering better two-way tourism movement could bring greater benefits.

The White Paper is due for release later in 2017. Given Tourism now sits squarely within the DFAT framework, with both the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment having significant responsibility for the way Australia is viewed by the world, it is timely to bring Travel more squarely into the policy framework and we hope our submission has some influence in the White Paper recommendations.