Private tours of Australia have become an increasingly popular tourist attraction in recent years, attracting more than 10 million visitors each year.
Now, there are signs the popularity of private tours could be coming to an end, with government agencies saying private tours are likely to fall by the wayside by the end of next year.
The ABC has obtained a letter from the Department of Tourism and Culture to the Government, outlining what it believes will be a significant drop in private tour operators by the middle of next month.
“Private tour operators will no longer be permitted to operate on private land in the Commonwealth from June 1, 2019,” the letter states.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres has previously said the Government is prepared to reconsider the decision, saying he does not want to be “saddened” by the closure of the business.
But the letter from Tourism and Tourism and Arts Minister Andrew Barr says that while the Government does not intend to abandon the business of private tour operator tours, it is likely to “increase the requirements for private tour companies to register”.
The letter says that it is also likely to introduce new requirements for operators to demonstrate they are able to comply with new Australian Government regulations governing the private tour industry.
However, Mr Barr said the change would not affect current operators who continue to operate, saying the Government had no intention to reduce the number of tours that are available.
He said the government does not believe that a reduction in the number will have a significant impact on the number or quality of the trips being offered.
Mr Barr said he expected the change to have an impact on other areas of the industry, including accommodation, sporting events and other attractions.
A spokesperson for Tourism and Recreation Minister Andrew Broderick said it was too early to make any changes to the rules governing private tour operations.
Touring operators say they will be able to reopen after the changes in June Mr Broderis said he had been told by tour operators that they will soon be able return to their business.
“Tourism has been an incredibly popular industry for years, and it is great that we can offer our customers more options, but the Government’s approach will have an effect on the tourism industry as well,” he said.
ABC Travel reporter Tom Loughan is reporting from Canberra for the ABC’s ‘Tourism 101’ series.
Topics:business-economics-and-finance,travel-and_tourism,travel,australiaContact Andrew Broker at: [email protected] or +61 3 9215 5290