A 6.8 per cent fall in international visitor expenditure for the year ending March 2015 has heaped further pressure on embattled Tourism Minister Leon Bignell to justify his $150,000 overseas travel bill.
“Minister Bignell’s abject failure at growing the number of international tourists visiting South Australia indicates the taxpayer isn’t getting value for money from the Minister’s international travel,” said Shadow Minister for Tourism David Ridgway.
South Australia was the worst performing Australian state for international visitor expenditure last year, suffering a 7.7 per cent fall in visitor nights which resulted in a $50 million decline in visitor expenditure in our state.
The International Visitor Survey, released today by Tourism Research Australia, shows that international tourists spent 716,000 less night in South Australia last year.
“What is particularly disturbing was that national international visitor expenditure grew by 10 per cent whilst South Australia’s fell by 6.8 per cent,” said Shadow Minister for Tourism David Ridgway.
“Indeed on each measure of the survey – visitor numbers, visitor nights and visitor expenditure – South Australia was the only state to record a decline.
“The bleak news for the tourism sector comes but days after Tourism Minister Leon Bignell was reported for having spent $150 000 on travel in the last financial year, clocking up expenses such as a $750 limousine trip.
Last week in Tourism Budget Estimates, whilst justifying his own travel expenses, the Minister stated that to drive up tourism revenue, one needed to “…go out and get more people coming here” and “sell what we have to offer”.
“Given his own explanation, Minister Bignell should stay at home and see if the tourists come, because his trips overseas seem to be scaring them away”, said Mr Ridgway.
“This Labor Government and Minister needs to change their approach to attracting tourists – not only does the tourism industry need effective leadership, but South Australian taxpayers deserve a return on the $150 000 investment in the Minister’s overseas travel.”