TTF View – February 2011
Essential for governments to provide certainty in
tourism agency funding
By John Lee, chief executive, Tourism & Transport Forum
IN this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
So wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1789 and his statement still rings true more than two centuries later.
No matter how well businesses prepare, unforeseen eventualities will affect their ability to operate, to employ and to grow.
In recent months we have seen flooding in virtually every state and territory, as well as bushfires and the might of Cyclone Yasi.
It is precisely this unpredictability which makes certainty in other areas so important and why governments must ensure that business has con-sistent policy platforms and funding frameworks on which to base its plans.
Funding for Australia’s tourism agencies delivers strong returns to the economy, with marketing and promotions helping to attract visitors to the country.
Indeed, there’s strong evidence to support expenditure on tourism marketing, with the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre finding that each dollar spent in Asia promoting Australia as a tourism destination brings in $17 in visitor expenditure.
Each year competition for the global travel dollar intensifies, making it all the more important to invest in campaigns to build awareness of Australia overseas. This means that government spending on tourism must at the very least be maintained in real terms.
This commitment will give tourism operators the certainty they need to plan and budget for their own marketing and promotional activities, which often include partnerships or alliances with a body like Tourism Australia or one of the state tourism organisations.
This allocated funding must be quarantined, so that it represents an absolute minimum investment, with additional monies available in the event of an external shock, from a terrorist attack to a natural disaster.
In the wake of the Queensland floods, the state and federal governments announced $10 million in emergency funding to boost the promotion of Queensland as a tourist destination and overcome the perception that the entire state was flood-affected.
Crucially, this was in addition to existing tourism marketing budgets – a policy TTF believes must apply to all such scenarios in the future to ensure that planned activities can continue.
Expecting agencies to shift their spending priorities at short notice to deal with an unexpected event will impact on relationships with the private sector, and with their ability to continue with campaigns often a long time in the planning. It reduces confidence in the agencies’ ability to commit to agreed courses of action, leaving corporate partners gun-shy about future involvement.
The floods and cyclone have also damaged vital infrastructure and those repairs have rightly been prioritised. However, in this too, it’s important that funding committed for new projects or improvements to existing assets is left untouched as far as possible.
Again, certainty is paramount. If we get it right, the rewards will be great.
TTF View appears quarterly.