Abbott to announce funding for Australian battered tourism industry

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Tony Abbott is set to unveil the Coalition’s tourism policy in Cairns today, in a region battered by the impact of the global financial downturn.

Mr Abbott is expected to announce funding to help boost the tourism sector.

Cairns lies in the marginal seat of Leichhardt, which the LNP’s Warren Entsch is hoping to snatch from Labor’s Jim Turnour, who holds it with a margin of 3.9 per cent.

Mr Entsch this morning said he was feeling “reasonably confident” he could win the seat, buoyed by today’s Newspoll results, published in The Australian, which showed Labor and the Coalition even on 50 per cent each on a two-party-preferred basis.

Mr Abbott kicked off his morning with a photo opportunity aboard a boat that ferries tourists out to Green Island off the coast of Cairns.

The Opposition Leader hopped into the skipper’s seat, to get a feel for what it would be like to sit in the “top chair”.

“(It) makes me feel very powerful sitting here,” Mr Abbott joked, as he made himself comfortable.

“(But) I don’t want to get ahead of myself sitting in the top chair.”

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises director Jim Wallace said the region had been hit by 14 per cent unemployment and plummeting tourism numbers over the past three or four years.

He urged both parties to invest more in promoting tourism in the region.

Although warmly welcoming Mr Abbott onto his boat, Mr Wallace said he had not yet made up his mind who to vote for, although he was leaning towards the Coalition.

His daughter, Paula Wallace, who also runs the business, said she would be voting for the Liberal Party because she believed it cared more for small business.