The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the Government’s A$50million boost to the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme in last week’s Federal Budget.
Managing Director Matt Hingerty said: “Few people realise that over 90 per cent of the inbound tourism industry is made up of small or medium-sized businesses. The EMDG funding boost will assist these operators to compete with cashed-up foreign operations and promote Australia as a holiday destination.”
The scheme helps inbound tour operators develop new overseas markets by refunding up to half their costs, but has been plagued by a funding shortfall in recent years.
Industry insiders predicted a stampede of operators hoping to cash in on the unexpected windfall, with vehicle upgrades a popular item on the shopping list.
Last year, Hingerty warned the Government needed to put an extra A$500million into the scheme to boost inbound tourism (Backpacker Trade News, December 19 2008). However, he said the more modest sum allocated in last week’s budget would still give the industry a platform upon which to build.
He added: “We never wanted a handout. Tourism is an industry of great entrepreneurs, who have built the sector from humble beginnings to one of Australia’s largest export-earning industries.”