Apparently the original $10M allocated for the Small Business Online programme has been extended by $4M specifically to help small tourism operators go online.
Investing in online capacity for the tourism industry is a good idea – of course I’m going to see things that way. And targetting funding towards getting small businesses online is very positive. See their press release below and make up your own mind.
Personally I’d like to see Australia tackle some of the infrastructure bottlenecks that make it harder for small businesses to be effective online.
Payment Gateways: I would love to see investment in the National Payment Gateway of Australia, making it easy for small business to easily accept payments online. For small tourism operators it is relatively easy to accept credit card payments (unless you want to use one of the banks). But it would be far better if all Australian tourism operators could just switch on electronic payments to suit their customers – whatever currency or payment form that might be. Yes, web developers can solve some of this. But if we want Australian tourism operators to have an advantage, well we would be better off with a national (open) solution.
Media Release from Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Martin Ferguson, Minister for Tourism.
INTERNET BOOST FOR 50,000 SMALL BUSINESSES
Joint media release with the Minister for Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson MP
More than 50,000 small businesses will benefit from $14 million in Rudd Government funding to help them go online or upgrade their internet presentation.
The funding is being provided from the Rudd Government’s $10 million Small Business Online program which has been boosted by another $4 million to extend it to more tourism small business operators.
Across the nation, 95 per cent of small businesses are connected to the internet, yet only 57 per cent have a website.
The funding will help small businesses – especially tourism operators – take full advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN) by helping them install and upgrade websites.
Small Business Minister Craig Emerson and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson announced that grants ranging from $50,000 to $700,000 had been offered to 47 small business support groups including industry associations.
The groups will use the grants to help small businesses develop the skills to go online or upgrade their existing internet operations so they can better engage in e-business to reduce costs and improve market opportunities.
Among the groups to be funded are the Darwin Region Business Enterprise Centre ($320,000); the Margaret River Wine Industry Association ($140,000); the NSW Business Chamber ($495,000); and the Gulf Savannah Development group – which supports businesses from Cairns to Broome – ($200,000).
Dr Emerson said the NBN would provide fresh opportunities for small businesses to lower their costs and extend their market reach.
“The NBN will be a powerful tool for small business and helping 50,000 small businesses go online or improve their online presence will ensure they are ready for these exciting opportunities,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said he was pleased many small tourism operators would receive support.
“In the 21st century, tourists want to know a lot about the quality of the accommodation on offer before committing to travelling to a particular location and giving them a virtual tour online will help improve the attractiveness of tourist destinations,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The business support groups being funded will be specifically targeting the tourism industry, in line with the Government’s announcement of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy.”
A list of successful applicants and more information on the Small Business Online program can be found at www.ausindustry.gov.au