U$ 3 million budget cut to Australia tourism, wine sector gets boost

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TRAVEL GAZETTE – Australia’s federal budget for 2016 will include a number of changes to the tourism industry.

Australia’s main tourism body Tourism Australia’ will have its funding cut by 3 million U.S. dollars to 105.08 million U.S. dollars.

Sam Huang, Associate Professor in Tourism from the University of South Australia told Xinhua  the cut would not have much of an impact on the sector.

“I don’t think it’s too significant,” Huang said. “I don’t think it will make a big difference because the market may not be just influenced by the promotional work.”

A winner from the 2016 federal budget however was the wine industry, which will receive a 37.53 million U.S. dollars boost over 4 years.

Wine Australia chair Brian Walsh said the grape and wine sector brings together agriculture, sophisticated production and tourism.

“We welcome this initiative and we look forward to working closely with the grape and wine sector to design and implement the 37.53 million support package to help boost domestic wine-related tourism and export assistance,” Walsh said.

“These new measures will help build regional employment and increase the wine sector’s contribution to the Australian economy.”

A backpacker tax’ introduced in last year’s federal budget has had no changes made to it, despite calls from several lobby groups that it might damage Australia’s tourism sector in the long term.

The tax, set to come into effect from July 1, will mean backpackers on a working holiday visa will pay 32.5 cents on every dollar earned.

Huang said the tax could deter backpackers from coming to Australia.

“I really would advice the Federal Government to do more research and look at how other countries in the world treat backpackers,” Huang said.

“Our economy needs them.” He noted in some regional areas, the only labour available was that of backpackers.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia chief executive Margy Osmond agreed with Huang’s sentiments.

“The Federal Government’s destructive backpacker tax is going to smash the number of people choosing Australia as a backpacking destination,” Osmond said.

She noted holiday backpackers were a crucial source of labour for tourist operators in remote and regional parts of Australia.

“These are businesses that are heavily influenced by seasonality and locations where it is extremely difficult to find local or permanent staff.”

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