Thursday, May 24, 2007

Climate change policy fails Aussie tourism industry Prime Minister John Howard risks tarnishing Australia's reputation as a natural tourism destination by failing to urgently address climate change, Queensland Minister for Tourism Margaret Keech says.

Mrs Keech told state parliament that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the $A18 billion ($NZ20 billion) a-year Queensland tourism industry, and that the federal government has let the industry down by failing to earmark adequate funds for the issue in the budget. "Queensland is working hard to address this worldwide issue but our tourism industry is being let down by lack of action from the federal government," she said.

"At a recent climate change summit delegates were told that long before our natural tourism product is affected by global warming, changes in consumer perceptions could have a negative impact on tourism jobs and export earnings. The federal government has been dragging the chain on this issue for too long."

However federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said Mrs Keech's claim was an "aberration of fact". Ms Bailey said the budget included $A7 million over four years to implement the Great Barrier Reef Climate Change action plan, and $A26 million to establish and manage the Australian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation. "Overall the government has committed more than $A2 billion towards its climate change strategy," Ms Bailey said.

"The Australian government is (also) developing a Tourism Action Plan on Climate Change to assess the impact of climate change on tourism and develop adaptation strategies in consultation with the tourism industry and state tourism ministers. This is part of the Climate Change Adaptation Framework agreed by federal and state governments that is focusing on practical outcomes, not political point scoring."

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