A Federal Budget boost is required to revive inbound travel and ensure Australia’s ranking as a leading destination, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC).
While international visitor numbers are slowly improving, a year into open borders and inbound visitor numbers are still well down on 2019, with members telling us a full recovery is still at least 12-18 months away,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said.
“The Federal Budget needs to support our industry to recover and apply all possible efforts to ensure a return to pre-pandemic international visitor numbers and spend.”
ATEC’s pre-budget submission calls for specific measures to help drive the recovery of the Australia’s export tourism sector, including a bigger budget for Tourism Australia.
The industry body has also appealed for the freezing of any additional taxes and charges on international visitors and the reforming of visa policy.
Visa reforms should include reducing working holidaymaker visa fees, introducing a cost-effective ‘family visa’ category for specific countries, returning the Approved Destination Visa product, and commissioning a visa benchmarking study to ensure Australia’s global competitiveness.
ATEC’s other suggestions include funding to support export capability training for tourism businesses across regional Australia and increased funding for the Export Market Development Grants scheme, a net-positive program driving export success.
ATEC also supports the call to hold the comparatively high price of Australia’s Passenger Movement Charge (currently $60 per person).
“The PMC is yet another disincentive for international visitors to travel to Australia at a time when we need to remove any impediment which may cause the intending traveller to choose an alternative destination,” Shelley said.
“ATEC has long advocated for a minimal PMC charge and for that charge to be fed back to support the development and growth of Australia’s highly valuable tourism industry, much like surcharges and taxes which contribute to the development of other Australian export industries.”
With the Federal Budget due to be handed down by the Treasurer on 9 May, Shelley added: “We trust the Federal Government will continue to be supportive of Australian tourism exporters and its future growth and contribution to our country’s economy.”