Report finds room for improvement in hotel development approvals

Minister for Trade and Investment

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP

Minister for tourism and international education

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

2 October 2015

Planning hurdles are raising the cost of new hotel developments vital to Australia's surging tourism sector, according to a report released today by Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and new Tourism and International Education Minister Senator Richard Colbeck.

Commissioned by Austrade from planning consultancy Urbis, the report Hotel Development Regulations in Australia identifies opportunities to improve planning and environmental approval processes across all states and territories, including in regional areas.

The report finds overly complex planning regulations cause significant delays and uncertainty for hotel developments, and recommends that federal, state, territory and local governments work together to promote simplicity, transparency and predictability in all state and territory jurisdictions.

Mr Robb said the sector was crucial to jobs and growth and that delivering on new investment opportunities was needed to boost the quality and supply of hotel rooms.

"The Australian, state and territory governments have been successful in attracting a healthy pipeline of hotel investment commitments in our capital cities. Now it is time for us to deliver on that pipeline," Mr Robb said.

Senator Colbeck said he is excited to take charge of tourism at a time when Australia is experiencing significant growth in visitor arrivals that is helping support new investment in tourism infrastructure.

"Tourism is one of our major growth sectors, with international visitor arrivals reaching a new record of seven million in the year to March 2015," Senator Colbeck said.

"We need new hotels to accommodate an ever increasing number of visitors but too often such developments are slowed by unnecessary red tape.

"Working across all levels of government to make our regulatory environment more investment-friendly will have broader benefits outside tourism. I am confident our ongoing reform process can achieve this," he said.

Tourism employs approximately one million people throughout Australia and is one of Australia's most important services exports, responsible for an injection of $107 billion dollars into the visitor economy in the year ending March 2015.

Nine specific report recommendations focus on measures aimed at reducing undue cost and risk, providing stronger coordination within government and creating more responsive conditions for investment.

Recommendations include providing better guidance information for new and international investors, adopting a flexible approach to design requirements, making 'fast tracked' DA processes available for low risk projects and putting greater emphasis on pre-approval engagement and case management.

Copies of the report are available at http://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Policies/Tourism-investment

300915 - Media Release - Urbis report
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