Cuts to tourism marketing funding announced in the South Australian budget will put at risk hard-won growth in domestic and international visitor numbers, according to peak industry body Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).
The budget allocates $50.5 million to the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), down $3 million on 2013-14 expenditure, with marketing funding cut by $4 million.
TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said all elements need support.
“It is disappointing to see support for tourism cut in the South Australian budget when the industry presents a real economic development strategy for South Australia, especially as mining investment and heavy manufacturing continue to decline,” Mr Morrison said.
“The budget also robs Peter to pay Paul, with marketing funding reduced by $4 million to cover a $1 million increase in support for tourism development and events.
“While New South Wales and Victoria maintained support for their marketing agencies, this is yet another budget where South Australia has failed to increase its investment.
“This is not the way to grow your visitor economy and this is not the way to help South Australia reach its Tourism 2020 target of increasing visitor expenditure to $8 billion.
“Investing in new products and events is great, but you also need to tell people about them, so reducing your marketing support by $4 million is counter-productive and reduces the state’s competitiveness.
“Tourism already supports a total of 54,000 jobs across South Australia and contributes $5.0 billion a year to GSP and additional investment will help the industry to grow, offering more job and business opportunities.
“Cutting tourism funding risks hard won growth and will not allow tourism to fulfil its potential as one of five super-growth sectors that can deliver a combined $250 billion to the Australian economy over the next 20 years.”
On transport, Mr Morrison welcomed the $160 million investment in the O-Bahn extension.
“This project will take buses off some of Adelaide’s most congested streets, improving traffic flows and travel times for commuters and was the “game changer” for Adelaide in our 2013 report, Accessing Our CBDs,” Mr Morrison said.