The Gold Coast Bulletin

BUDGET HITS ‘CONFIDENCE’

Cr Tate lambasts lack of tourism sector support

- BRIANNA MORRIS-GRANT

GOLD Coast Mayor Tom Tate has labelled the absence of new tourism industry funding in the budget a blow that will hit the confidence of operators to expand or refresh.

City tourism operators will remain in “survival mode” after being largely snubbed by Tuesday night’s federal budget, according to Cr Tate and other city leaders.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was accused of “abandoning” the Gold Coast after delivering a budget with little new support for the city’s once $6 billion-a-year industry.

The federal government does not expect borders to begin reopening to internatio­nal tourists outside the trans-Tasman bubble until mid-late 2022, budget documents revealed.

Cr Tate said the lack of funding for the Gold Coast had left him feeling “like the little kid in the corner Christmas morning”.

“(It’s like) you just got a present and you go ‘Where’s some more?’,” he said.

“The announceme­nt of light rail stage 3 happened a week ago, the 800,000 halfprice tickets happened two weeks ago, so I’m looking to on go through what else is there.”

In a pre-budget announceme­nt, the federal government unveiled a $126m in extra funding for the next extension south of the tram network after a cost blowout. Months earlier, it revealed a giant boost for aviation with the subsidised domestic fares.

Cr Tate said: “What I don’t like about it, what’s underwhelm­ing (is) the lack of support for the tourism sector.”

The overall budget was “compassion­ate” but it wouldn’t restore faith for kneecapped tourism operators, he said.

“You need confidence to build additional tourism infrastruc­ture, to refresh the current tourism products whether you’re a hotelier or a cafe owner,” he said. “We’re in this together, as all politician­s say, but don’t just say that and not give us the hope.

“When you don’t have confidence, you’re in survival mode.

“When you’re in survival mode, you don’t seem to plan (to grow).”

With efforts largely focused on boosting the domestic market, the budget warns the lucrative tourism market will take a significan­t hit once internatio­nal borders reopen and Australian­s rush to holiday overseas.

Funding for Tourism Australia will not return to preCOVID levels for nearly five years.

The nation’s peak marketing body will see its funding for promoting Australia overseas drop this financial year from $139.4m to $135.3m.

It will gradually increase again over forward estimates until it reaches pre-pandemic levels again in 2024-25.

Destinatio­n Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan, who also serves as chairman of Events Management Queensland, said: “Obviously we’re really happy with the support we’ve been given but infrastruc­ture is a key part of what we need going forward.

“Support for the light rail, the sky rail and other very important bits of infrastruc­ture will be required to achieve what we need to achieve,” Mr Donovan said.

“You can jump up and down all you like, but at the end of the day the budget’s been made and we need to now make sure we’ve got representa­tions to the ministers.”

This week, it was revealed Gold Coast Airport had 410,000 people through the terminal for April.

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