Friday, February 23, 2024

Cairns says visitor levy key to future of Queensland tourism

Cairns Regional Council will table a motion calling for the introduction of a tourist visitor levy at this year’s Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) annual conference in October.

Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning says visitor levies are well established and accepted throughout other parts of the world and should be permitted for local government in Queensland.

“During the first half of the decade to 2019, Queensland lost significant market share to overseas beach competitors, while domestically, Victoria overtook Queensland for total overnight visitor expenditure for the first time,” the Mayor said.

He said recent visitor numbers and spend in Tropical North Queensland showed that increased investment in destination marketing had a positive result.

Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning.

“Through targeted campaigns and increased government investment, domestic travellers spent a record $3 billion in the year ending March 2022, up 18.8% from 2019.”

“That is clear evidence that increased investment and resources yield positive results.

“In Cairns, a visitor levy of just 2.5% on short term accommodation, which equates to less than the cost of a cup of coffee, would raise more than $16 million per annum for destination marketing and tourism industry development, which would deliver an estimated $176 million incremental impact to GRP.”

Mayor Manning says the levy is one of seven motions Council is preparing to table at the annual meeting.

Council’s proposed motions include:

  • Visitor Levy – Funding the Future of Queensland Tourism
  • Body corporate fees and sale of land process
  • Continuation of the Regional Recycling Transport Assistance Program
  • State waste levy revenue hypothecation transparency
  • Non-competitive funding to harmonise kerbside bin collection services
  • Roadmap and non-competitive funding to implement actions from Regional Waste Plans
  • Social and affordable housing – additional measures to reduce housing stress for vulnerable residents.

Allowing local government areas to introduce a visitor tourism levy to help promote their region was first suggested by Mayor Manning prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concept has received renewed attention following the release last month of the state-appointed independent Tourism Industry Reference Panel report, Towards 2032 – Action Plan for Tourism Recovery, which included a recommendation for legislative change to provide local governments with the ability to implement a visitor tourism levy under an opt-in model.

Council is also hoping to garner support from the LGAQ to lobby the State Government to implement additional measures aimed at addressing the housing crises for vulnerable residents across Queensland.

The conference will be held on 17-19 October at the Cairns Convention Centre.

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