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ABS hotels survey to stay, for now

Pier One Sydney - Water exterior EDITED HM

Austrade has stepped in to ensure the Survey of Tourist Accommodation will remain in place for another year, following intense industry lobbying.

It was announced earlier this month that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) would scrap the Survey due to funding constraints and the move was criticised by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) and other sectors of the industry, because funding for hotel and other tourism infrastructure development relied heavily on these independent, reliable statistics to justify the investments.

The Federal Government’s decision, announced last night (Jun 24) by Friends of Tourism MP Dan Tehan, to continue funding the Survey of Tourist Accommodation for another year has been welcomed by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), but the organisation is calling for the Survey to be allocated long-term funding.

Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism, Andrew Robb, has committed that for 2014-15, Austrade would fund the Survey, which would continue to be carried out by the ABS.

TAA Managing Director, Rodger Powell, said that the move highlighted Minister Robb’s understanding and appreciation of the value of the accommodation sector and its contribution to economic growth and the creation of new jobs.

“Minister Robb is overseas selling investment in Australia and knows just how important this information can be,” Powell said.

“TAA lobbied extensively for the retention of these statistics because Australia is about to undergo its most significant hotel development programme in two decades, and it is essential that investors and other analysts have the most precise, comprehensive and reliable figures possible.

“The Minister and his team are to be congratulated for their rapid intervention, but we are concerned that the extension is currently just for one year, with Austrade charged to work with industry to find a sustainable funding model.

“We understand that the Government needs to reduce spending, but making cuts that negatively impact investment makes no economic sense.

“The primary users of the data are not the 8,000 properties who supply it, but the investors, analysts, developers, and other players in the broader tourism segment.

“The production of such comprehensive data is not something that the accommodation industry could take on for itself due to the unique structure of the hospitality and tourism sector.

“We would call on the Treasury and the rest of the Government to support long-term funding of the statistics, because the industry has been identified as one of the five national growth industries and provides outstanding opportunities to grow employment across the country, in both cities and regional areas.”

Accommodation Association of Australia CEO, Richard Munro, told HM he was thrilled with the reprieve.

“The Accommodation Association of Australia was quick off the mark to alert the relevant Minister(s) in the Federal government to the significant risks of losing the long running Tourist Accommodation survey,” he told HM.

“We are very pleased that the Federal Government has agreed with industry that the survey is a critical for investment and evidence based policy decisions to continue and have committed to funding the ABS from July 2014.”

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