TOURISM BOSS LEFT COLD BY FUNDING PROSPECTS
Written on the 22 January 2015 by Jenna Rathbone
THE Gold Coast tourism industry has to decide between Hollywood blockbusters or "paltry" budget increases at the upcoming state election, and Gold Coast Tourism head Martin Winter isn't impressed.
Winter (pictured), who says tourism should be a key priority due its $5 billion annual contribution to GDP, says he is disappointed by the lack of commitment from both major parties to boost the industry.
"We see the election as a watershed opportunity for both of the major parties to clarify what they intend to do over the next three years and unfortunately neither of the parties have provided the detail that the industry is expecting," he says.
"Both of the parties claim that tourism is one of their priorities, however neither of them has given the detail for that to be confirmed."
The Labor Party has announced it will increase the tourism budget to $40 million over four years.
"The Labor party release lacks detail except for criticising the government for cutting more than $20 million from the Tourism and Events Queensland budget last year," says Winter.
"Ten million dollars a year isn't going to make up the shortfall that was experienced over the last year alone, and from that perspective one has to wonder if the Labor Party is serious about tourism being one of its key agenda items.
"Likewise, the industry is terribly disappointed from the LNPs release which also doesn't provide any detail but talks about $60 million which is going to be allocated for the film and television industry and events."
Winter says although it is great that a lot of the money will be injected into the Gold Coast, the industry believes there are other areas of priority for the funding.
"It has been proven that expenditure in the film industry attracts only a very minor increase to the visitor economy," says Winter.
"There are no credits on any film in terms of where the film was shot and, furthermore, a number of these films such as The Pirates of the Caribbean will not show any contemporary imagery of the destination.
"The concern we have is that if the lion's share is allocated towards film and television, it leaves precious little that has to be spent around the state for event funding."
The LNP government reports that the hit global television series Modern Family which was filmed in the Whitsundays last year reached 125 million viewers worldwide and when it aired to 9.2 million viewers in the US, Qantas had a 25 per cent increase in visits to its website.
In addition, filming of the fifth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has so far generated more than 20,000 bed nights in the far north during the tourism low season.
Minister for Tourism Jann Stuckey says the $60 million Queensland First tourism fund will not only attract film productions but also world-class sporting events and major cultural events and will continue to put Queensland on the international stage.
"The Tourism package announced earlier this week by the LNP also includes $20 million for drive tourism and a continuation of the highly successful $8 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund," says Stuckey.
"This will build on strong tourism initiatives implemented by the Newman Government such as the It's Live! in Queensland Events Campaign, expected to generate $380 million for Queensland's economy."
Gold Coast Tourism is calling for the incoming government to implement the commitments outlined in the Gold Coast Destination Tourism Management Plan, commit investment to vital tourism and transport infrastructure and increase marketing, events and business events funding.
"The tourism economy throughout Queensland, in fact throughout the world, relies on two things - one is a strong and vigorous campaign to tell people why they should come to the destination and the second is in supporting tourism infrastructure," says Winter.
"Neither of these has been identified by either party as being part of their platform and so we wait with great interest to see what will happen when the new government arrives."
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.Connect via: Twitter