THE Gold Coast tourism industry is confident that a change of government is exactly what the city needs to boost tourism and ensure the industry is not overlooked by a dominating political party.
Head of Gold Coast tourism Martin Winter (pictured below) met with the new Minister for Tourism Kate Jones today and says, ironically, the benefits of having no Labor representation on the Gold Coast could potentially work to the city's advantage.
"We agree with Bernard Salt that by having one party dominate the local political scene has been detrimental to the Gold Coast in the past," says Winter.
"The general consensus is that no favours were done previously because there were no political gains to be made.
"Now with a change of government, there is hope that some of the marginal seats on the Gold Coast will be seen to be winnable at a future election and the Gold Coast will not continue to be overlooked."
Jones, who was awarded the portfolio of education, tourism, major events, small business, and the Commonwealth Games just four days ago, met with an array of business leaders this morning where they talked all things tourism.
Winter says he walked out of the meeting feeling positive about the appointment of Jones and described her as "a breath of fresh air".
"It is very refreshing that we have a minister that is very keen to start off positively and make the effort to come down to the Gold Coast - after all we have the Commonwealth Games and the Gold Coast accounts for more than a quarter of the tourism in Queensland," he says.
"With regard to any concern about the workload, certainly it is acknowledged that the education portfolio is very large, however we are confident that we will be able to work with the minister positively.
"We don't expect the minister to have all the answers and intimate knowledge of every issue, however provided she understands the strategic matters which are important for the future of the Gold Coast, we are confident that this meeting will have a good outcome."
Winter says Jones expressed interest in utilising skills and expertise of the industry and quoted the Premier in saying "tourism is absolutely critical for the future of Queensland and the economy".
"The minister expressed genuine interest in utilising the skills and expertise of the industry and was very open to the suggestion that she would be encouraging open communication to ensure the best results are achieved for the Gold Coast," says Winter.
"She reiterated the government's commitment to additional funding which was welcomed by all the people present, particularly the commitment to increasing resources for tourism and events Queensland and for the attraction for new major events."
Winter says the issue of the cruise ship terminal was not raised, however it is on his agenda.
"Unless the Gold Coast can develop significant new tourism infrastructure such as the ASF proposal, we won't continue to meet the changing expectations of visitors and struggle for relevance in an incredibly challenging international market place," he says.
"It's about jobs and the creation of jobs."
Labor's pre-election promise includes increasing the tourism budget $10 million a year over the next four years.
Winter says $10 million a year isn't going to make up the shortfall that was experienced over the last year alone and one of the key agenda items in his meeting today was ensuring funding would continue for tourism initiatives.
He says in particular that funds for marketing need to be a priority and long-term certainty needs to be established in the industry.
"Just recently the announcement made by the NSW Government of over $120 million additional to attract events is very concerning," says Winter.
"If we continue to have the funding levels that Queensland has had over the last three years, we will continue to struggle."
Gold Coast Tourism is calling for the Labor government to implement the commitments outlined in the Gold Coast Destination Tourism Management Plan - commit investment to vital tourism and transport infrastructure and increase marketing, events and business events funding.
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