VCEC Inquiry into Victoria's Tourism Industry
On 23 August 2012, VTIC welcomed the State Government’s response to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s Final Report on Victoria’s tourism industry.
VTIC considers the response to be largely positive, and supportive of the appropriate expansion of Victoria’s tourism industry.
We welcome the Victorian Government’s recognition of the importance of tourism activity and applaud the steps taken to ease the regulatory burden on operators and potential investors.
VTIC was pleased to see many of the recommendations in its submission to the Inquiry adopted by government.
The Victorian Government’s response to the VCEC Inquiry allows for:
- Increased consideration of tourism issues in broader state planning processes;
- A strategic approach to be taken to Regional Growth Plans which is cognisant of the needs of the tourism industry;
- Tourism to be listed as the primary purpose in Farming Zone, the Rural Conservation Zone and Green Wedge Zone developments;
- The removal of regulatory obstacles to private sector investment in tourism infrastructure in Victoria’s national parks;
- Private sector leases of public land to extend to up to 99 years (up from seven years);
Improved cooperation and coordination between government bodies involved in tourism regulation and policy.
VTIC’s media release on the VCEC Inquiry response can be found here .
In September 2010 the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) launched an independent inquiry into Victoria's tourism industry, releasing an Issues Paper which described the scope of the inquiry, the information that it is seeking, the process and the timetable for the inquiry. In releasing the Issues Paper, presiding Commissioner Ms Deborah Cope said that:
"Tourism is an important and growing sector of Victoria’s economy. But it has not yet reached its potential. There is a risk that this potential will not be realised if regulation and the way government manages its assets gets in the way unnecessarily. This inquiry is a great opportunity for Victorian businesses to highlight the costs of regulation on the tourism industry and how changing the way government assets are managed could create new tourism opportunities."
In particular, the VCEC sought views and submissions on:
- unnecessary regulation and ‘red tape’;
- how state assets (for example, natural and built assets, public land) might be managed to better meet the needs of the tourism industry, without compromising their primary management objective; and
- the impact of international and domestic aviation policy on the Victorian tourism industry.
VTIC was heavily involved in the Inquiry, providing background information and research on the industry; coordinating industry roundtable consultations in the Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula, Gippsland and High Country regions; and making a substantial submission that featured several case studies to illustrate the impacts and burdens of restrictive, unnecessary or anachronistic legislation and policy on tourism businesses of all sizes.
In line with the scope of the Inquiry, issues and concerns in relation to the following areas were raised:
- Planning and zoning
- Management and regulation of public lands, including lease arrangements and licensing of private tour operators and activity providers
- Role of key government agencies and departments in the management of state assets
- Regulatory barriers hindering private sector investment and business growth
- Regulatory burden, especially on small and medium businesses
- Liquor licensing
- Aviation policy
Key Recommendations from VTIC
Reducing Regulatory Burden
- A new regulatory culture must be adopted to understand business processes and the burden created by regulatory compliance. There must be a commitment from all levels government to provide a 'tourism industry- and business- friendly' operating environment within Victoria.
- A significant reduction, if not removal, of remaining barriers to complementary private sector investment in nature based tourism infrastructure and supporting services, and more broadly, investment on or adjacent to public land (including State and National Parks).
Planning and Investment
- A vision for the Victorian tourism must be considered during the development of Victorian and key regional planning policy frameworks. Tourism industry development strategies must be considered as the market context of the sector changes over time.
- The creation of a state-wide tourism development master plan that identifies key regions and sub-regional locations that are predisposed to commercially sustainable tourism infrastructure development.
- Regions, sub-regional or precincts identified as predisposed to commercially sustainable tourism infrastructure development must enshrine “as-of-right” use provision in the relevant planning framework.
- Recognition of key tourism infrastructure types (such as short-term accommodation, tourist facilities, tourist attractions or visitor interpretive facilities) as a legitimate and specific land use type under the Victorian planning policy framework.
- Enhanced facilitation of investments, particularly those with a combination of functions, e.g. retail, accommodation, hospitality, and recreation.
- Provision of regular progress reports on the status of applications from local government and VCAT to applicants.
Public Land Licensing
- That Tour Operator Permits be recognised as a genuine 'licence’ and consideration for the spatial component of the licensed activity is clearly articulated as the foundation of the license itself.
- That transferability of Tour Operator Licences from one enterprise or firm to another enterprise or firm be clearly established as an allowable practice, in consideration of the spatial component that has been shown to be attached to current licenses; and in consideration of the commitment set out in the 2008 Policy Statement that is emphasis would be the development of a “Licensing System for Tour Operators and Activity Providers on Public Land”
- That consideration should be given to the viability of enhanced ‘series licences’ to reduce the need for and cost of multiple licences for single activities or events, and where repeat licences are needed for regular events or activities.
Skills and Labour
- Engage the Commonwealth to undertake meaningful Workplace Relations reform for the Tourism, Hospitality & Events sector that recognises the unique working patterns of the sector and acknowledges the 24 hour, 7 day per work nature of operations for many businesses.
- Develop structures that engage the VET sector in ensuring an employment outcome is a core goal of the training system. Reward VET providers that are able to demonstrate a measurable connection between the attainment of skills via the VET system and the attainment of an employment outcome in an industry that is related to that training.
Engage the Commonwealth, through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to:
- Improve tourism businesses’ access to sponsored skilled migration visas, including the processes and timing relating to lodgement and assessment; and
- Include high demand tourism occupations on the General Skilled Migration Skilled Occupation List.