The amount of leave owed to Australian workers was “a disgrace” according to federal tourism minister Martin Ferguson. Speaking at the Australia-China Tourism Summit in Cairns, Mr Ferguson complained many young Australians were hoarding leave to take extended holidays overseas. Combined with the effect of the strong Australian dollar, this was harming the domestic tourism market.
Australians have too much annual leave up their sleeves and employers should encourage them to take more short breaks, Mr Ferguson stressed. Australians should consider taking more short three- or four-day holidays, rather than saving their leave.
“We’ve got to change our own mindset – a short break is as good as a long break and encourage people to actually have a holiday in Australia.”
Mr Ferguson announced a strategic tourism investment grant, Lifting Quality in the China Tourism Market. According to Mr Ferguson, the $1 million grant funding will put “an emphasis on quality” as it aims to boost industry awareness of the needs of the Chinese market “including through tour guides, accreditation and the use of technology for independent travellers”.
The Australian government has also committed a further $4 million to the Approved Destination Status scheme “to stay ahead of the game”.
Federal minister assisting on tourism Nick Sherry said Australia would look to Chinese investors to foot the bill for rejuvenating its ageing tourism infrastructure. Investment “has been insufficient to maintain and expand a modern infrastructure, so some of our infrastructure is looking old and worn,” he said.
“At the end of the day, wherever that investment comes from, frankly, we don’t mind whether it is Australian or foreign,” he said. “There is, in China, interest in investing in Australian tourism and infrastructure. We seek to encourage that.”
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the Chinese outbound tourism market was expected to be worth $9.5 billion to Australia by 2020. However, he said it was vital that Australia fought to improve its market share as he unveiled its 10-year strategic plan aimed at substantially boosting the number of Chinese tourists to Australia over the next decade.