Thursday, March 2, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox is concerned about funding cuts that he believes could result in a lack of international tourists visiting the Whitsundays.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics have released a report that stated international tourist visitation is only 25 per cent of pre- pandemic 2019 levels.
Despite domestic tourists at a record-breaking high, Willcox believes that the government should be forward-thinking and allocating funding to attract global tourism now that the world’s borders are fully open.
He is frustrated that $35 million of funding has been cut from Tourism Australia this year and worried what the implications will be on our nation’s ability to reach global markets.
“The Prime Minister needs to start backing our tourism operators and regions like Dawson who are reliant on the international market,” he said.
“Tourism Australia is the agency responsible for marketing Australia as the destination of choice to international holiday makers.
“The decision to cut $35 million from their funding in the budget was exceptionally poor.”
Willcox pointed out that local Whitsunday operators have dealt with a “double blow” when the COVID 19 Recovery for regional Tourism Fund ceased in December last year.
The Whitsundays and Mackay region had received $3,500,000 from the Federal Government which helped assist businesses and tourism operators who were heavily reliant on International Tourism.
“We are now competing heavily against the rest of the world to attract international travellers. It makes no sense for the Government to cut $35 million from the agency tasked with rebuilding our international tourism market,” he said.
Tourism Whitsundays CEO, Rick Hamilton said he is also concerned with the reduction in funding.
He stated that domestic tourism has been strong but as Aussies head overseas, there will be a lag in international visitation as Australia is a long-haul market booked a year out.
Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox at the Shute Harbour Marine Terminal. Photo supplied