25 January 2013

Australian tourism prices to plummet in Queensland

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Queensland's tourism minister is due to release a report today which criticises the state's billion dollar tourism industry's pricing practices, suggesting prices could be about to fall.

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Prices for some of Queensland's most popular tourist attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef could be about to tumble.

Jann Stuckey is due to release the results of a top level review into Queensland's tourism practices after complaints of 'rorting' - unnecessarily increasing ticket prices to bump middle men's commission.

Queensland, which is home to the Great Barrier Reef as well as some of the country's most popular cities, has a tourism industry worth approximately AU$8 billion (£5.3 billion) a year to the Australian economy but tourism operators within the state say middle men will have to reduce prices by up to 30% to remain competitive.

Ms Stuckey's review was carried out Ian Kean, a prominent figure in the state's tourism sector, and the tourism minister has confirmed that she has accepted all nine of Mr Kean's recommendations - including a code of practice and an abolition of parity pricing.

Ms Stuckey said the report's findings and the subsequent changes were intended to introduce 'consistency and control over changes paid to tour desk operators'. Many believe this will lead to a dramatic fall in ticket prices to attractions such as Dreamworld, Seaworld and dive trips to the Great Barrier Reef.

Daniel Gschwind, head Queensland's tourism industry council, said the review was called for after tourism operators were forced to sell their tours at a loss at times due to the disproportional cuts taken my middle men.

"Many were upset because they had to sell the product, like a trip to the reef, theme park or guided tour, at below cost because they middle man was taking such a huge cut," said Mr Gschwind.

However, Mr Gschwind said it should not be a government decision to moderate prices.

"But it is inconceivable and undesirable for the government to step in and say this is how much a commission can be.

"They do it in real estate, where there is a set commission price, but I can't see a similar solution in tourism."

Charles Woodward, one of the state's largest property tycoons, said whatever the outcome of the report, the winners would ultimately be the tourists.

"Prices will come down, this is a double-edged sword to bring prices down on tours and give operators more money to spend on marketing," said Mr Woodward.

"It is overpriced - some tour desks charge as much as 30 per cent of the ticket in commission. That is fairly ridiculous.

"We don't want tourists going home feeling like they've been rorted and ripped off."

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