December 2, 2014
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Jamie Freed
NSW politicians need to get over their view of thinking of tourism as a “boardies and thongs” exercise and realise it drives $33 billion in spending in the state every year, says Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond.
“I think there is a tendency sometimes to trivialise [tourism], and they do to think about it as the boardies and thongs exercise, it is just leisure tourism,” she said on the sidelines of the industry lobby group’s Leadership NSW event in Sydney on Tuesday.
Speakers at the event highlighted the importance of a second airport for Sydney, as well as the curfew at the current airport, as major issues for tourism in the state.
“At a time when all of those mining jobs and those major resources infrastructure jobs are slowing, slowing, slowing, it is going to be the tourism industry and its service sector that is most likely to provide those jobs into the future,” Ms Osmond said.
TTF’s analysis of each electorate in NSW ahead of the state election in March shows direct tourism jobs provide at least 4 per cent of employment in all 93 lower house electorates and account for more than 7 per cent in Bega, Tweed, Ballina, Rockdale and Sydney.
Overall, NSW has 91,000 tourism businesses that support more than 158,000 direct tourism jobs and 190,000 indirect tourism jobs.
Some of those jobs include workers at Sydney Airport, concentrated in the Rockdale and Kogarah electorates.
Ms Osmond said the planned construction of a new Western Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek would be the catalyst for more employment in the region.
“When work begins you will see a whole lot of work in that construction centre and you will see movement of businesses who will gravitate toward the airport zone,” she said. “You will see a complete change in the local economy of the businesses that go there because of transport links. It has got huge implications across the board.”
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said that an airport in Western Sydney was “the best catalyst” the state had to help that region become an economic powerhouse, as it would support 28,000 direct jobs.
“This project is a gamechanging for reorienting our entire city toward Western Sydney helping to address congestion and promoting business and tourism,” he said.
Destination NSW chairman John Hartigan said Sydney needed a second airport, but it was also important not to forget about the ability to increase capacity at the existing Kingsford-Smith facility.
He said the curfew and caps on take-off and landings were “out of some sort of horror movie” and needed to be relaxed.
“I believe if we don’t get some change at Sydney Airport it doesn’t matter whatever initiatives happen at Destination NSW or from others in tourism,” Mr Hartigan said. “We are going to go nowhere.”
Committee for Sydney chairman Lucy Turnbull said Sydney needed to do more to encourage repeat visitors to help grow its tourism industry.
“The people who have come here and loved it are the best audience we have,” she said.