Simon Birmingham has been retained as federal tourism minister in the new Morrison government, prompting leading industry bodies to issue a resounding “welcome back”.
Mr Birmingham, colloquially known as Birmo, is one of the heavyweights among a swathe inexperienced cabinet ministers, having served as education minister under Malcolm Turnbull before being shuffled into his current portfolio.
The senator, who is manager of government business in the Senate, has a strong background in tourism, having worked in the South Australian wine, tourism and hospitality sectors before entering parliament.
He started out as an adviser and then chief-of-staff to the South Australian tourism minister, enjoying a stint managing public affairs for the Australian Hotels Association and directing stakeholder relations for the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia in his life before politics.
Tourism Accommodation Australia congratulated Senator Birmingham on returning to the ministry, CEO Michael Johnson saying: “Minster Birmingham has been a steady force for the industry and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with him and the entire Morrison Government on strengthening Australia’s accommodation and tourism sectors.
“We have many pressing issues on the horizon including the significant shortage of skilled labour in the accommodation sector, one of the major employers in the tourism industry.
“With more than $8 billion being invested in the sector, and over 40,000 rooms in the development pipeline across Australia, we look forward to a coordinated approach from government and industry to address this critical issue.”
Mr Johnson also welcomed the elevation of Anthony Albanese to Labor leader.
“As a former shadow minister for tourism, Mr Albanese has a great understanding of our industry and its needs and we expect a close working relationship with him as leader of the opposition,” he said.
The Australian Tourism Export Council also congratulated Senator Birmingham on his return to the ministry – and welcomed creation of the new role of assistant minister for regional tourism, to be held by senator Jonathon Duniam.
“Minister Birmingham took on the tourism portfolio in August last year and his reappointment to the role gives us the opportunity to continue to grow our relationship with his office and build on our advocacy for the tourism industry,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“We are also very pleased to see recognition for our regional industry members with Senator Duniam appointed as assistant minister for regional tourism, providing a firm focus on developing regional tourism with a view to increasing regional dispersal of domestic and international travellers.
“Our industry is strong and robust but we have some significant challenges to overcome in delivering a continuing economic success for Australia.
“These challenges centre around questions relating to maintaining our competitiveness as an attractive tourism destination over the coming years, and how we ensure the delivery of high quality, authentic Australian experiences – key questions to our future success – and ATEC will be working with the Government to highlight these issues and find solutions.
“ATEC is calling on the new Morrison government to embrace an ‘an all of government approach’ to address issues which are impeding the growth of the tourism industry threatening to erode the momentum of what is a $44 billion export industry that grew at more than seven percent in the past year.”
Accommodation Association of Australia CEO Richard Munro previously said of Senator Birmingham: “Both before and after he entered parliament, Mr Birmingham has been a strong advocate for tourism – including recognising the importance of tourism to the economy in his maiden speech in parliament – and therefore, our industry is delighted that he is the new minister for trade, tourism and investment.