AFTA View – October 2011
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Jobs and taxes – what AFTA told the Federal Government summits
By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents
OCTOBER has clearly been a busy month for talking with the Federal Government holding two very significant summits in the Job Summit and the Tax Forum.
While AFTA did not have a direct representative at either (you can imagine how many people and industry sectors wanted to go to both) we were represented via our links to the tourism industry and the NTA (National Tourism Alliance).
Firstly the Job Summit: The key outcome relating broadly to travel but more directly to tourism was the announcement by the Prime Minister that Enterprise Connect will be extended to include tourism across the country.
You can get more detail about this via the Enterprise Connect website, but basically it is a $200 million Australian Government initiative designed to boost productivity, improve innovation and increase the competitiveness of Australian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). I will leave it up to you to see how it might best be of service.
The PM also announced that Senator Sherry (the Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) will be working on opportunities created for tourism businesses by the National Broadband Network.
I think this will be more of a way to get domestic product connected to the net rather than travel businesses. But let’s wait and see.
The Prime Minister has also announced that an updated tourism strategy will be delivered by the end of the year. I guess we will just have to wait to see how and if this translates into real assistance for the travel industry and the labour shortages that continue to present problems for everyone looking for staff.
The other important talks this month took place at the Tax Forum. There has already been much reported about the key outcomes and I don’t think the travel industry need get too excited. Any tangible, deliverable tax changes appear to be well down the track.
• This month also saw the tourism forecasting committee release the key facts around the movements of arrivals and departures for Australia.
I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone in the travel industry that outbound departures are up with the forecasting committee foreshadowing 9.2 per cent growth in 2011 – a total of 7.8 million Australians leaving the country on business or leisure. The committee forecasts 10.3 million outbound departures by 2020. I am sure that travel agents will get a very considerable share of that market.
The argument about the domestic market taking a hit as a result of these movements is valid, but at the end of the day we live in a democratic society and it is each and everyone’s choice as to the location of their next holiday.
So don’t worry about sending people overseas. If you don’t do it, then some unregistered, non-Australian domiciled, internet based foreign owned, non Australian taxpaying entity will. The Australian travel industry does pay its fare share of tax and I can assure you I remind anyone that is listening to me in Canberra of that very important fact.
The future looks bright on a number of fronts, all we need now is to get consumer confidence back and the travel industry is set for a good long ride.
Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.