Government response to tourism report falls short on jobs, safety and standards

MEDIA RELEASE – 20 DECEMBER 2012

Local jobs are at risk, aircraft movements would increase and National Parks are under threat of development from the NSW Government’s tourism strategies, warns Jan Barham, the NSW Greens spokesperson on tourism.

“The Government’s response to the Visitor Economy Taskforce report has endorsed strategies that would jeopardise local employment and give support to tourism development in National Parks, but does not address visitor safety in our National Parks in relation to the approval for shooting of feral animals,” Jan Barham said.

The Visitor Economy Taskforce report, released in June, identified key strategies and actions along with a commitment to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, and the State Government has now endorsed that report. The release of the NSW Government’s response has defined some positive strategies for tourism but also supports additional Sydney Airport movements, development in National Parks and moves to increase the working visas for travellers putting at risk jobs for locals.

“The Taskforce report identified that nature is the primary attraction for domestic visitors to NSW yet the potential for development and shooting in protected areas such as National Parks puts visitors at risk. Destination NSW should commit to visitor safety education regarding shooting as they do for surf safety, but in Estimates hearings the Minister for Tourism denied that this was his responsibility,” said Jan Barham.

The Government’s response included support for the relaxation of current aircraft movements at Sydney Airport.

“Increased aircraft movements at Sydney Airport will come as a shock to Sydney residents who already experience extensive amenity impact from the current level of aircraft traffic. The NSW Government will refer this matter to the Commonwealth, but they should be up-front in advising Sydney residents of their support for increased disturbance,” said Jan Barham.

“The government should be ensuring that there is local employment in the tourism industry, but instead it is supporting an increase of the working holiday options for overseas travellers. In some areas there may be worker shortages but in coastal locations there is potential for locals to miss out on much needed employment in favour of travellers. This is the case with towns like Byron Bay, where travellers often get the jobs that locals need.”

“The response by Government also supports cutting red tape for tourism development, but many tourism developments are located in sensitive and significant ecological areas. It is vital that detailed planning consideration is given to these developments that can pose a risk to biodiversity, community and visitor safety, along with traffic and social impacts.”

Jan Barham also called for clearly defined eco-tourism development controls and a system of accreditation for this industry sector. “The Greens consider it essential that travellers are assured that eco-tourism operators’ marketing and promotion is matched by appropriate standards of operation. The NSW Government should consider linking funding support to the quality product development, as New Zealand has been able to do with its 100% Pure campaign.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

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