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Tourism sharks targetted by Federal Government.

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Joe Hockey Minister for Small Business and Tourism 30 April 2004 TOURISM SHARKS TARGETTED BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT Unethical practices by some unscrupulous tourism operators will be targeted by the Federal Government’s Compliance Taskforce the Minister for Tourism and Small Business, Joe Hockey, said today. The Federal Government, with the support of State and Territory Governments and the tourism industry, is determined to stamp out any illegal activity by tourism operators. Enforcement agencies in the compliance task force will investigate complaints and where appropriate seek prosecution. The 2004 Australian Tourism Export Council Symposium is an opportunity for industry members to be updated on progress by the Taskforce and for tourism operators to come forward and provide details on potential breaches of legislation by unethical operators. The Compliance Taskforce has brought together a number of government agencies including, state and territory tourism, relief services, air trading agencies, the ACCC, Customs, Federal Police, the ATO, DEWR and DIMIA. These agencies will investigate claims of rogue operators preying on unsuspecting tourist, providing a low quality experience, overcharging and unfairly restricting activities. Issues raised to date include price collusion, false country of origin claims of goods, conditions of employment, tax avoidance and potential linkages to organised crime. The first meeting of the Taskforce was held on 23 March 2004 and included representatives from several Australian and State Government agencies. Outcomes from the first meeting were positive and highlighted a number of tourism related issues that could be pursued under existing legislation. The next meeting of the Taskforce will be held in July 2004. In the meantime, the Commonwealth will continue to work with individual agencies to analyse and pursue complaints regarding the quality of services provided in the tourism industry. Dodgy consumer practices can downgrade Australia’s tourism reputation and affect the number of visitor arrivals. It is important that Australia maintains its reputation as a value for money shopping destination. The Federal Governments Compliance Taskforce, with support from the ATC and the industry, will help to preserve and promote Australia’s tourism reputation. There is a national hotline for consumer queries and problems (1300 55 22 63), a 24 hour interpretation service contact for business people who do not speak English (13 14 50), and an internet complaints registration address ( Media contact: Sasha Grebe, 0408 974 349