‘Is it a case of out of sight out of mind’?
‘Since the election regional tourism has lost its representation at the highest level of Federal Government’ says David Sheldon, chair of the Australian Regional Tourism Network.


The Australian Regional Tourism Network (ARTN) has some exciting Industry development platforms for programs to assist the Government’s aim in doubling the overnight expenditure by 2020. They’re programs that have the Government collaborating with Industry. But to date it would appear that no one is interested in what regional tourism has to offer or say.

I am concerned that the ARTN, the voice of regional tourism, is not being provided with an opportunity to advise Government on regional tourism initiatives and issues. Some other associations based in metropolitan Australia have highly paid lobbyists and hefty supporters but no real connection to regional destinations.  We acknowledge that there are priorities, such as visa reforms, however where is the consultation with the industry in our own backyard, who are the heart and soul of regional tourism,’ commented ARTN’s chair David Sheldon.

We have a population base in regional Australia of over 9 million, and the Industry contributes substantially to the Australian GDP.  Latest results from Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey (NVS) for the year ending December 2013, indicates that there is continuing growth in domestic travel, with overnight trips up 1.8 per cent and spending up 3.0 per cent.

At the 2013 Directions Conference held at Parliament House, Canberra, it was announced the Tourism Industry was selected as one of five Super sector Industries to lead the Australian Economy forward said Mr Sheldon.

We need Government to realise that regional tourism is a major component of that Super Sector Industry.’

Mr Sheldon does state that through the Network’s Executive Officer the ARTN is working with certain sectors of Government, and the education industry to develop practical ways of strengthening the capabilities of the regional tourism sector. But regional tourism needs to be represented at the highest levels of Government to enable the right programs and initiatives to be implemented.

‘Really what policies or programs for the tourism industry in regional Australia have been announced or rolled out since the election?; Mr Sheldon asks. ‘ We’ve heard a lot of talk about the TIRF Grants and international tourism initiatives but the reality is, that very little has transpired. Perhaps there is policy progress but are the communication channels open? With little to no consultation with regional tourism, I am not at all surprised that many of our members believe it really is a case of ‘out of sight out of mind’, commented Mr Sheldon

Mr Sheldon noted that the vast majority of tourism operators in regional Australia are small to medium enterprises. “And the last time I looked most SMEs are conservative voters who’d expect a more proactive stance from the government.’

In closing Mr Sheldon stated that it was time for the Federal Government to step up to the plate and recognise the importance of regional tourism through some effective dialogue as regional tourism has a voice and needs to be heard.

For more information:
David Sheldon
Australian Regional Tourism Network
M: 0428 482 778
E: chair@artn.com.au