Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, reflected on the strong growth of Australia’s tourism industry during a Tourism Accommodation Australia (Victoria) – TAA (Vic) luncheon held with leading hotel industry stakeholders at Crown Melbourne on Friday last week.
As spending by international tourists reached a record $40.6 billion for the year ended June 2017, Minister Ciobo reinforced the importance of an attractive regulatory environment that continues to encourage investment in new hotel projects. He also recognised the importance of hotel infrastructure as a vital component of this continued growth.
In doing so, Minister Ciobo stressed that time taken to grant planning permissions, in some cases of up to four years in duration, is an example of where red tape needs to be reduced, so that it doesn’t become a disincentive to future investment. He contended that greater regulatory clarity was needed, as State Governments work to differentiate between private and public accommodation and address the uneven regulatory environment that currently exists between hotels and short stay accommodation providers.
In working to address the growing need for appropriately skilled staff to meet increased tourism demand, the Minister identified the need for market based initiatives, like the Youth Jobs PaTH program, and the continued evolution of vocational education and training to ensure they meet the needs of employers.
Minister Ciobo also noted the aspiration of international residents to visit Australia has never been higher, a fact that needs to be leveraged by turning aspiration into visitation. He referenced that direct flights in markets with significant growth potential, like China, will drive increased demand, particularly given there are 21 cities within China that now have direct air service access to Australia. Pleasingly, the Minister also noted that he now has consultation rights on all Australian air service agreements, including a direct link to relevant discussions with Federal Minister for Infastructure and Transport, Darren Chester.
He reflected that a key driver of this aspiration to visit Australia is its marketability as a safe destination of choice. In relation to recent changes to visa requirements for individuals to enter and work in Australia, the Minister reasoned that there is a balance to be struck between ensuring they have ease of access to do so, whilst maintaining “a sufficient level of enquiry of individuals” to ensure that this hard-earned status is protected.
Ultimately, Minister Ciobo recognised the significant benefits of “working in tandem across government to build Australia’s value proposition” and, in doing so, supporting the work of Tourism Australia to drive increased visitation to Australia.
TAA (Vic) continues to advance initiatives detailed in its 2017/18 Strategic Plan to address many of the issues Minister Ciobo raised. A recent meeting with Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, and her Consumer Affairs Advisor, Peter Stephenson, served to detail a hotel industry perspective on how the Victorian Government might achieve equitable regulation of shared accommodation.
The need for the sufficient availability of appropriately skilled staff to meet the increase in tourist arrivals is being addressed by TAA (Vic) through the formation of its Talent Taskforce. The Taskforce brings together a number of key industry stakeholders to develop strategies that will serve to enhance the hotel industry’s perception as an employer of choice, for people at different stages of their careers, and focus on creating a more responsive training and development system to better meet industry need.
TAA (Vic) has also enhanced working relationships with other tourism industry stakeholders, including Visit Victoria, Destination Melbourne, Melbourne Convention Bureau and Arts Centre Melbourne with a view to encouraging increased visitation to Melbourne by intra and interstate guests, particularly during off peak periods.
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