Libs look at tourism

SHADOW Minister for Tourism, Arts, Youth and Sport, Steven Ciobo, visited the Whitsundays on Tuesday to talk to business owners and tourism operators about what can be done to attract more tourists to the region.

Mr Ciobo made no formal commitments or promises to the people of the Whitsundays.

But he said he understood the importance of tourism to places such as Airlie Beach.

“The tourism industry is doing it tough,” he said.

“Unfortunately areas like this have not had funding and that's why areas like this are falling on their knees.

“Labor cut funding and increased taxes so it's no wonder areas like this are suffering.”

Mr Ciobo took the opportunity to talk to Whitsunday locals.

One issue that was at the top of their list was the $50 million upgrade to the Airlie Beach Main Street.

“That's the kind of thing we'd look at funding,” Mr Ciobo said.

“When we revise our policy, these will be the things we look to address. “Our track record is strong.

“We have provided very strong support to the tourism industry.”

He also said that the Whitsundays was just one of many regional areas feeling the impact from the downturn in tourism numbers across the country.

Mr Ciobo believes the recent global financial crisis and increased tourism and retail taxes are the main reasons causing Australian tourism to suffer.

“Numbers are down across the board and the reason is more Australians are heading overseas,” he said.

“And the reason is that is costs too much to holiday in our own country.

“Operators have to pay more penalty rates and it costs jobs and it costs customers.

“What we need to do is get the economy back on track and we need to encourage Australians to travel here.”

Mr Ciobo was joined by Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald and by Dawson LNP candidate George Christensen.

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