Accommodation bodies have praised this week’s NSW budget for tackling skills shortages and stimulating employment across the $32.5 billion state tourism industry.
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) and the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) have both lauded measures announced by the Berejiklian government to improve training and lift tax thresholds across the accommodation sector.
TAA chief Carol Giuseppi said $285.2 million targeted at vocational education and training would be a boost for tourism, which employs more than 56,000 people.
“It is great for labour and skills, and for transport infrastructure,” she said.
She also welcomed an additional $764.8 million allocated for skills development and training programs through TAFE NSW and other training providers.
“There are very real shortages right across the accommodation industry right now when it comes to skilled workers in the managerial, culinary, food and beverage areas in particular,” she said.
“Making TAFE courses free for some 100,000 people will help boost the numbers of students going into these key areas of our industry in coming years.
“There’s no doubt building workforce capability remains a key priority for our industry and it is great to see that addressed in today’s budget, as well as the increase in the payroll tax-free threshold.”
AAoA chief executive Richard Munro said employment in the accommodation industry will be stimulated by the government’s move to lift the payroll tax threshold from $750,000 to $1 million by 2021/22.
“Payroll tax is unproductive because it is a tax directly on jobs,” he said.
“Therefore, any policy which decreases the payroll tax burden on operators of accommodation businesses is positive, especially given the labour-intensive nature of our industry.
“Unlike offshore online giants who rake in millions from the visitor economy, the accommodation industry employs thousands of people across all parts of the state and increasing the payroll tax threshold will give accommodation businesses a greater incentive to employ more people.”
Ms Giuseppi praised the new transport and infrastructure initiatives included in the budget, particularly in Western Sydney.
“Spending on the feasibility study into a high-speed underground train connecting the Sydney CBD to Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park is important, as fast connectivity is crucial in boosting the visitor economy benefits of western Sydney,” she said.
“Projects like this one will mean more business events and tourism dollars.”
Mr Munro said the additional $118 million allocated in 2018-19 for regional tourism infrastructure was vital to making non-metro areas more accessible to visitors.
“While Sydney continues to be the mainstay for NSW tourism, backing family-operated small businesses in regional areas – many of which are struggling to stay profitable because of the unfair regulatory advantages Airbnb enjoys – is vital.
“The Government’s investment in infrastructure, such as major city roads (which facilitate regional dispersal) and country highways is to be commended.”
Both organisations welcomed an increase in funding for regional destination marketing.
Ms Giuseppi said: “It’s good to see $54 million included in the budget to market regional NSW as a tourism and event destination, along with the $7.5 million for regional programs to attract more visitors, events and conferences.”
The industry’s total contribution to the economy is an estimated at around 6 percent of NSW gross state profit.