Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is calling on the Gillard Government to empower the tourism industry of the North and subsidise tourism operators’ product marketing efforts.
The call comes as industry heavyweights claim they need assistance to get back on their feet as a matter of urgency in the wake of Cyclone Yasi and the recent downturn in the economy.
“The industry itself is full of passion and energy to get the heart of the economy ticking once again, but they can’t do it on their own. With the nation’s highest unemployment rate and businesses closing by the week in the Far North the situation needs urgent attention. The Far North was the hardest hit area in Australia in the wake of the GFC and on top of its economic woes it has now been dealt a massive blow with Cyclone Yasi. It is imperative that we provide theses businesses with support. These operators need to be assisted to rebuild and reinvigorate as soon as possible. Tourism is what drives our economy,” said Warren Entsch.
Mr Entsch said the funding could be administered to operators via Tourism Australia, Tourism Queensland and Tourism Tropical North Queensland to provide subsidies for those wishing to get to ATE, ATEC Symposiums or approved road shows, sales missions both international and domestic.
“The fund would be aimed at enabling ‘the real people of tourism’, the operators, to get into the market to tell their own story and market their own destinations and products in a way Regional, State and Federal bodies cannot,” Mr Entsch said.
The Federal Member suggests that the scheme be provided over a 12 month period whereby assistance is given to operators via a 50% subsidy arrangement.
Ron Livingston, tourism industry stalwart and owner of Pinnacle Tourism Marketing has praised the idea.
“Let the Governments and tourism authorities set the rules but give the support to the people who not only supply the tourism product, but have their entire lives invested in the industry to get directly to market. The Far Northern tourism business owners are a powerful force,” Mr Livingston said.
The Export Marketing Development Grant (EMDG) which many tourism operators were entitled to access previously is now unavailable and Mr Entsch says a replacement scheme is required considering the region’s obvious ‘special needs’ case.
“The Coalition put forward a $10 million regional specific marketing fund to assist the Far North during the 2010 election, I am calling on the Gillard Government to match this funding commitment. I will be meeting with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Bob Baldwin MP – Shadow Minister for Regional Development & Shadow Minister for Tourism and Ian MacFarlane MP Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources while in Canberra this week to secure their support for this proposal,” he said.