Private tour operators can rake in millions of dollars a year, but they are also vulnerable to a growing problem.
Tourism operators and their staff have become increasingly reliant on the Government for funds, and it is estimated that more than 80 per cent of all tourism revenue in Australia is dependent on the private sector, with the Government paying for up to 75 per cent.
Private tour operators say the Government does not want to see them go, and the industry has responded by lobbying for changes to their contracts, to the point where private tour operators now make less than half the average Australian worker makes.
The Government says the private tour industry is thriving.
But for many, the changes have been more disruptive than beneficial.
For one, the Government has taken on a larger role in how tour operators operate.
It has allowed the private industry to raise its own fees to cover the costs of managing its operations and to protect the industry’s reputation.
In some cases, the government has allowed operators to take on even more staff than they otherwise would.
And the Government’s own research suggests that private tour firms are more likely to charge more to visitors to their attractions than to their own staff.
“If the government wanted to do something about the tourism industry, they would certainly be looking at how to make it a little bit more sustainable,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the Government should make sure that the industry was better protected and that its staff were not forced to work harder.
To that end, he is calling for an independent review of the private travel industry.
He said he believes that a review should look at how the Government can ensure that private companies are able to manage their businesses properly, and not just make money off the Government.