Friday, 12 March 2010

Tourism freeloaders

The tourism industry is always held out as the way forward.

Perhaps it is.

But is it immune from making unreasonable demands upon Governments? And are the existing political parties able to distinguish spin from fact? And do they treat them equitably when compared to other industries?

Or are they caught up in the institutionalised acceptance that the tourism industry is untouchable.

Take Mr Hodgman’s announced policies.

“A majority Hodgman Liberal Government will provide the real change needed to grow our tourism industry by providing more than $35 million extra to grow the sector, and by facilitating major new attractions…........We will provide the real change the industry needs by providing $21 million more over three years for marketing and promotion compared to the last state budget…......This much-needed funding will support the industry to grow.”

Why does this industry need assistance? It is a mature industry. When will it stand on its own two feet? What other industry demands the Government fund their marketing budget? Sure there are lots of tourist enterprises who spend $s on marketing. But there are lots who don’t and who expect Governments to do it for them. Hell, that’s what Governments are for. Even those who spend their own $s expect Governments to pitch in as well. Why? What is this culture?

Sure, Government’s may intervene to open up a new attraction, to unlock the externalities, to spend public $s to unlock benefits which otherwise would have remained locked away.

But why do they have to keep meeting recurrent expenditure like marketing?

The tourism industry has its own unique cultural practices.

The days of having to put up with freeloading travel agents and other spruikers on their familiarisation visits are lessening with the growth of the Internet.

But the culture of entitlement of the industry has not diminished.

A downturn in the industry, no worries, get the Government to spend more on marketing! Any other structural changes, don’t worry, the Government are suckers when it comes to the tourism industry. A quick dog whistle is all it needs.

It’s not just a LabLib conspiracy. They’re all in on the plunder. The 3 of them.

The simple fact of the matter is that the tourism industry are freeloaders on the Government purse.

True, they are a valuable industry from an employment viewpoint, and from time to time Government support is warranted.

But the relentless expectation of Government largesse suggests an industry incapable or unwilling to remove itself from the teat.

The culture has changed slightly over recent years . The free loading agents have been replaced by free loading consultants. Who obviously have caught Mr Hangman’s ear.

For example Mr Hodgman has promised

· $200,000 to support the development of a cable-car up Mt Wellington.

· Developing a Food and Wine Tourism Action Plan, including $120,000 per year to Wine Industry Tasmania for industry development

· Undertaking an independent review, in consultation with the TT-Line, into the Spirit of Tasmania vessels

· Providing $250,000 to fund a feasibility study into the Lake Margaret tourism site

· Providing $150,000 to conduct a feasibility of an international golf tournament at Barnbougle.

To quote Mr Hodgman “Only a majority Hodgman Liberal Government can provide the real change needed to grow our tourism industry.”

If this industry is to take its place in the adult world it should learn to stand unassisted.

The Government should be a facilitator not a bagman.

Meanwhile the plunder will continue regardless of the March 20th election.

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