GOVERNMENT CUTS FUNDING TO STRUGGLING TOURISM SECTOR
NSW Labor has condemned the Berejiklian Government for slashing funding to the State’s tourism agency, as the sector struggles to recover from drought, bushfires, floods, the pandemic and recession.
Funding for Destination NSW has been cut by more than $75 million over the last two budgets. This year the Treasurer claims to have boosted funding to the agency by $75 million. However, the Shadow Minister for Investment and Tourism Jenny Aitchison said this isn’t the case when you consider the actual spend on Destination NSW.
“In terms of dollars out the door, Destination NSW has had a cut – despite the industry grappling with a pandemic, fewer international visitors and the devastating impact of bushfires. This budget won’t even restore the funding that’s been cut in the last two years,” Ms Aitchison said.
“It’s appalling that during the most challenging period for tourism, the Government underspent its budget for Destination NSW last year. This is the agency responsible for helping tourism businesses recover.
“We know that tourism has been the hardest hit sector, with more than 51 per cent of international visitors to Australia coming to NSW. That market, which is worth $7.7 billion to the state’s economy, was turned off overnight.
“Areas more than two hour from Sydney are really struggling to get visitation and even though businesses close to Sydney are full, that’s only due to COVID-safe restrictions. Tourism operators are struggling to continue to pay staff and we are losing jobs all over the State.
“This Government has been hopeless in supporting the tourism industry through this crisis.
“The Government’s ‘Out and About Voucher’ stimulus package is half the size of Victoria’s. It can’t be spent on accommodation or organised tours and won’t even start operating until January 2021. The NSW scheme is just a pilot that’s only going to be trialled in Sydney. All the other states have some kind of voucher system in place and most of them have been operating since October.
“Now is not the time to be cutting the budget of the agency responsible for marketing NSW destinations. It’s short-sighted, especially when other State borders are close to opening and we will be competing with Queensland and Victoria for tourism dollars.”