Does the industry need a trade association?

These are not words I find easy to write, but Greg Cole made an interesting point the other day. He suggested the backpacking sector would benefit from the formation of an industry association, paid for by members and the state tourism organisations with a full-time staff – along the lines of English Australia (EA).  

There’s certainly something to be said for the model. When GEOS closed its eight Australian language schools earlier this year EA was there to mop up, making sure students were found alternative placements and protecting the reputation of the industry in the process.

When the international student sector became increasingly alarmed at falling numbers, EA was among those knocking on Canberra’s door demanding action.

The only trouble is, that sort of power doesn’t come cheap. EA annual fees start at A$1236 and climb to $9273 (both plus GST) – how many backpacker businesses would be willing and able to kick in that sort of cash to get something going?

Backpacker Tourism Advisory Panel (BTAP) chair Peter Ovenden does a great job pushing the sector’s agenda via ATEC’s national board and also has a strong message for the politicians. He said:

The shadow minister asks us ‘what we really really want’. We want customers in our businesses, preferably more each year (not less). We do not want over regulation. We want to pay fewer taxes and have greater incentives for growing our businesses (don’t get me started on payroll tax). We want them to take our views seriously as we have value to add. The same message should be given to all participants on both sides of politics and to all stakeholders.”

Do we need a trade association for that?

5 thoughts on “Does the industry need a trade association?

  • December 11, 2010 at 1:39 am
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    We need something they`ll listen to!!! Call it what you will, it needs our backing and passion to drive it`s agenda.

    The Frogs burn cars and pillage shops because their pension age is raised 2 years: the Poms do likewise at the idea of austerity measures.

    If we want to be taken seriously (and we flippin DO!!) then we need a lobby group/association with the power to scare bureaucrats and pollies into action.

    Making loads of noise and abusingt coppers may seem a bit extreme, but, unless the Government and Opposition fear losing face/votes, they must at least expect Union-style rallies and ad campaigns to save our industry.

    Time we stood up for our future. Time for BTAP (or something like it) to show its teeth.I reckon Greg Cole would be superb at leading your average riotous assembly…..what do you folks reckon?

    Reply
  • December 11, 2010 at 1:39 am
    Permalink

    We need something they`ll listen to!!! Call it what you will, it needs our backing and passion to drive it`s agenda.

    The Frogs burn cars and pillage shops because their pension age is raised 2 years: the Poms do likewise at the idea of austerity measures.

    If we want to be taken seriously (and we flippin DO!!) then we need a lobby group/association with the power to scare bureaucrats and pollies into action.

    Making loads of noise and abusingt coppers may seem a bit extreme, but, unless the Government and Opposition fear losing face/votes, they must at least expect Union-style rallies and ad campaigns to save our industry.

    Time we stood up for our future. Time for BTAP (or something like it) to show its teeth.I reckon Greg Cole would be superb at leading your average riotous assembly…..what do you folks reckon?

    Reply
  • December 11, 2010 at 10:08 am
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    To answer Martins question “do we need a trade association for that?” probably not is the answer. The reason being that Peters wishlist could be cut and pasted into any industry: who doesn’t want the abolishment of payroll tax; who doesn’t want more customers (the UK police perhaps). They are important messages nonetheless about issues that white-ant businesses everywhere.

    I recall having more than a few drinks with a State Minister from Vic who told me that the Tourism portfolio was the lowest ranked portfolio in that state. You could be forgiven for assuming the same in NSW. The question is then wouldn’t the states or Federal govt be better off supporting a national BP trade association as opposed to public servants with no real interest in our interests. At least in part.

    BTAP is a great start. BTAP is also linked to ATEC, which brings both benefits and restrictions. BTAP members being business owners or managers or employees are also somewhat restricted in what they can say, or do. Trade associations cast a wider net.

    Thanks Scotty, but it’s a little early to be calling for pre-selection; however, I will pursue the concept further. From small beginnings…

    We need more feedback as well.

    Reply
  • December 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm
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    From what I hear government/parliament believes the tourism industry is too segmented and already has too many voices (all too small).

    As the backpacking sector of a wider tourism industry we have: TA (that’s the Tourism Alliance); TTF; BTAP via ATEC; and at state level all the BOAs, representing the sector, to name a few. Which one of those don’t we need? Because I don’t think the politicians want another one.

    Does the backpacking sector need a national industry association? NO
    Why not? Because its not an industry, backpacking is a sector. Just part of a larger whole. We need to support and work with the representation we already have.

    Do the BOAs need to work more cohesively at national level? PROBABLY

    Does BTAP have a role to play in this future? As the only federal level body representing the backpacking sector, most certainly. BUT

    They are volunteers doing a cracking job on behalf of the wider sector and for the most part in their own time. There just aren’t not enough businesses in this sector with the kind of dough that was spoken of earlier (EA fees: up to $9k).

    But there are a hell of a lot more businesses taking money from backpackers than there are members of either BOAs or ATEC. There might be your solution.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2010 at 9:06 am
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    I’ve never seen evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that the govt thinks we’re too segmented. TA’s own strategies are segment based; they have to be. Chris, there are as you point out a few organisations repping the tourism industry: but if you scratch beneath the surface you won’t find much in the way of backpacker driven agendas. BOA’s are effective and active and in NSW and QLD are well driven (I’m unfamiliar with others). They are the key to any Trade Association push.

    Yes, there’s a lot businesses clipping the BP ticket: Govt revenues on WHVs would top $42 million; there’s more than a few jumbo jet loads of BPs arriving every week, and it’s no secret what they spend whilst onshore.

    Reply

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