Written on the 9 June 2011


GOLD Coast tourism SMEs will have access to the Federal Government’s Enterprise Connect program and a share of $725,000 in funding, following an announcement in Cairns.

It’s part of a $12 million Federal and State Government Tourism Industry Support Package to extend free access to enterprise services to around 150 Queensland tourism firms for 12 months.

Minister assisting on tourism Senator Nick Sherry, says the threshold of $3 million per year turnover has been reduced to $1 million to give smaller operators a slice of the pie. Sherry says the assistance will support a lucrative export market in a state that attracts more than one-third of all international visitors to Australia.

“Our extension of Enterprise Connect to Queensland tourism businesses will be of great value to small and medium sized operators. We’re offering owners and managers the chance to have an expert adviser go over their operations and provide an independent assessment of how to improve their business,” says Sherry.

“We’ve allocated $725,000 for the Enterprise Connect extension to Queensland tourism businesses for a year. Enterprise Connect offers practical help to innovate and strengthen productivity at the time businesses need it most.

“Through Enterprise Connect, businesses can improve their supply chain, management structures, workforce systems and export strategies. Enterprise Connect has supported over 4000 firms since it began in 2007, including around 800 Queensland businesses.”

Former Gold Coast Tourism CEO and small business owner Bob Brett, says while ‘the devil will be in the detail’, any measures would be welcomed by the industry – no matter how small.

“Everything is welcome and anything is better than nothing,” says Brett, owner of JPT Tour Group.

“We need to get the issues right on the Gold Coast and that comes down to visitor satisfaction and having a broader range of products. We welcome any incentives that can help operators to get out of the biggest tourism hole we have ever seen.”

Figures released this week by Tourism Research Australia show a six per cent decline in international visitation in the March quarter, but China numbers are up by 14 per cent.

More worrying for the Gold Coast’s battling tourism sector is that the average tourist spend continues to decline at a faster rate.

The latest quarterly figures show international visitation dropped to 783,000 in the year up to March 2011, down from about 900,000 international tourists in the year ending December 2010.

Average international visitor spend declined by 13 per cent to $886 million – more than double the rate of visitation decline.

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