The Australian tourism industry has welcomed the appointment of a full-fledged tourism minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, but some sceptics have raised questions over Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to not make the role a cabinet-level position.
Under the Abbott government, Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb also held the
tourism portfolio, despite it not being in his brief. Mr Robb will remain the chief advocate for the industry in cabinet, even though Mr Colbeck, from Tasmania, is the new Minister for
Tourism and International Education.
Margy Osmond, the chief executive of the Tourism & Transport Forum, Mr Robb and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop need to ensure they continue their strong support for the industry within government as a result of the decision to leave the Tourism Minister out of the cabinet.
“Tourism is a critical part of the economy, an industry with nearly 1 million employees and which generates $100 billion worth of economic activity, so it must be seen at all times in a
whole-of-government context,” Ms Osmond said.
Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman oversees the state’s tourism portfolio at a time when the state’s industry has been growing rapidly, albeit from a fairly small base. In the 12 months to
June 30 the state reported a 22 per cent rise in international visitors to 162,800 and a 27 per cent rise in spending by those visitors to $298 million.
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro said the appointment of Mr Colbeck as Tourism Minister sent a message to the industry that Mr
Turnbull recognised the value of tourism to the economy.
Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said his organisation had worked well with Mr Robb since the tourism portfolio was removed after the 2013 election, but there were advantages to be gained from having a focused minister.
Ms Osmond went on to say that the Tourism & Transport Forum was also pleased by the appointment of Scott Morrison as Treasurer, as he had once served as the managing
director of Tourism Australia.