With the recent handing down of the state and federal budgets, there’s been a lot to absorb, a lot to sift through and a lot to decipher. Let’s demystify the information at hand, reflect on what our industry has to look forward to and remember what we need to look out for.
The 2015-16 State Budget delivered many wins for the tourism sector. It contained additional funding of $80 million over four years to grow major events in Victoria, as well as a provision of up to $210 million for the Stage 2 development of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), a project VTIC has long championed.
The Budget was positive for regional Victoria, including a wide range of projects delivered through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. Many of these will support visitation to regional destinations, such as the $19 million investment in the Grampians Peaks Trail, $30 million for the Geelong Performing Arts Centre and $8 million for the Sovereign Hill by Night program. We also welcome $20 million in funding to support regional arts and culture, including a regional touring strategy for major exhibitions, performances and programs.
The 2015-16 Federal Budget was strong in pushing Australia’s profile as a foreign investment destination, dedicating more than $50 million towards promotional activities in key markets.
Other highlights to assist Victorian small businesses included a 1.5 percentage point corporate tax cut for those with annual turnover of less than $2 million, while unincorporated small businesses (that also have annual turnover of less than $2 million) will be eligible for a five per cent tax discount of up to $1000 a year.
Despite the many wins delivered by both budgets, there were also some unwelcome surprises. The absence of confirmed details in the State Budget regarding tourism marketing and development and the Federal Government’s increase to visa application charges and the removal of the tax-free threshold for Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders, were not desirable for many within the industry.
Despite this, we must remember to remain grateful for the support given thus far. As we eagerly await the findings of the Victorian Visitor Economy Review, we acknowledge that there are decisions to be made and will endeavour to head towards the future with a positive mindset.
The outcome of the state and federal budget processes was a mixed bag for Victorian tourism. However, despite being given a few sour worms, overall, it’s pretty sweet.
~ Chief Executive, Dianne Smith.