The Rudd Government should urgently develop strategies to boost tourism across the Murray River region suffering as a result of prolonged drought, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Senator Birmingham has written to Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson to urge such an approach, following tourism industry concern at the tone of a Tourism Research Australia (TRA) report and Mr Ferguson’s misleading media release in response.
“After reading this report I was surprised to see Mr Ferguson’s media release of 1 April titled ‘Drought fails to leave Murray tourism high and dry’,” Senator Birmingham said.
“To the contrary, the drought has had a very severe impact on tourism throughout the Murray Darling Basin and along the Murray itself in particular.
“Across the entire Murray region, day trip visits fell by 700,000 from 1999 to 2008 while overnight visits fell by 740,000 – a significant fall having a major impact on many communities.”
“TRA’s research highlights that
  • Gross Regional Product has declined by $460.8 million as a direct result of the impacts of drought on the tourism sector
  • An average of 596 jobs have been lost each year for 10 years, a trend that appears to be worsening rapidly with a staggering 1,187 jobs lost in the final year of the study, 2008
“I have previously urged Mr Ferguson to consider assistance for tourism operators suffering as a result of the drought.
“Now that the drought’s impacts have been quantified, Mr Ferguson and the Rudd Government must outline strategies to reverse this downturn and help rebuild the tourism industry in the Murray region.”