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Strength of dollar remains top priority for Australian tourism

Strength of dollar remains top priority for Australian tourism

The strength of the Australian dollar remains the top concern of Australia’s tourism operators, the latest edition of the TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey has found.

With the dollar averaging US103.9 cents during the quarter – making it more expensive for international visitors coming to Australia and cheaper for Australians to travel internationally - it’s no surprise the exchange rate remains the tourism industry’s number one concern.

However, with the date of the federal election announced during quarter one of 2013 – the period to which the survey applies – the survey also notes rising concern about government policies affecting the sector.

TTF chief executive Ken Morrison said various policy frameworks affect tourism.

“Taxes and charges on tourists are ranked as the second biggest impediment to tourism operators, while government support to win business events bids is ranked third,” Morrison said.

“While the industry understands that government has negligible control over the exchange rate, governments do determine fees and charges levied on visitors and the level of support provided for business events bids.

“The TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey notes an increasing appetite to put tourism on the public and political agenda in the lead up to September’s federal election, along with continuing concern about labour shortages - both skilled and unskilled.

“The survey also shows that two thirds of respondents identify a lack of convention and exhibition space and the adequacy of land transport links to airports as having a medium to high impact on their business.

“These are areas in which government policy can make a significant difference through investment in demand-driving infrastructure, helping to secure business events which attract high-yield visitors, and reforming policy frameworks to help fill the estimated 36,000 tourism job vacancies nationwide.

“With more than half a million direct jobs nationwide and spending by tourists of $107 billion a year, the tourism industry deserves a prominent place on the national agenda in the lead up to September’s federal election.”