Tourism Australia's Geoff Dixon.
TOURISM Australia believes that Qantas' shock decision to cut funding for the tourism body's marketing campaigns will not stymie its ability to sell the country to the world.
A day after Tourism Australia's board declared its full support for chairman Geoff Dixon, the tourism body's managing director, Andrew McEvoy, said in a statement that he was ''confident that our future spend [on marketing] won't be compromised in any way'' by Qantas' decision.
Qantas has severed its ties with Tourism Australia because it believes Mr Dixon is in a position of ''untenable potential conflict''. It wants him to step down as chairman or disassociate himself from a rebel investor group agitating for a major change in direction at the airline. While Qantas is its largest tourism marketing partnership, Mr McEvoy said it represented just 6 per cent of Tourism Australia's total marketing effort.
''We'd like to reassure the industry that, given the number and scale of other commercial partnerships, Tourism Australia will continue to aggressively market Australia to overseas consumers,'' he said.
Qantas has a $44 million joint marketing deal with Tourism Australia, while its budget offshoot Jetstar provides about $5 million for campaigns targeted primarily at Japanese tourists.
Tourism Australia also reiterated its support for Mr Dixon on Thursday despite the Qantas pressure.
The tourism body's deputy chair, Kate Lamont, said Mr Dixon had previously declared an interest in Qantas, and it was the ''board's view at the time, and remains the case, that this does not create an unmanageable conflict of interest''. Mr Dixon would ''continue to absent himself from all matters relating to the Qantas Group'', she said.
Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson has remained silent on the bitter feud between Qantas' chief executive, Alan Joyce, and Mr Dixon.
The minister appoints the chairman and the rest of Tourism Australia's board, but has left the matter in the hands of the tourism body's directors to resolve.
On Wednesday, Mr Joyce launched a stinging attack on the group he labelled ''Airline Partners Australia Mark II'', as he sought to put an end to their so-called destabilisation strategy.
The group, including Mr Dixon, the former Qantas executive Peter Gregg, Sydney money man Mark Carnegie and adman John Singleton, has been seeking support from large shareholders and unions for a change in strategic direction at the airline.