Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F “Retail banks are rubbing salt into the wounds of tourism operators”, according to ATEC Managing Director, Matt Hingerty. Mr Hingerty’s comments refer to the recent interest rates increase, which is higher than the new rate announced by the Reserve Bank earlier this week.“On behalf of the industry we urge the retail banks to stick with the official rate.” Mr Hingerty said one of the industries greatest fears is the combination of a high dollar and high interest rates. “The interest rates rise has created a toxic brew for the Australian tourism industry. Inbound tourism operators are now faced with a cut in margins due to the strength of the Australian dollar and now higher interest rates is an added burden for small operators who are already struggling to keep their businesses afloat.” The ATEC Managing Director also admitted that many operators fear that consumer demand will be weakened by higher mortgage rates, which will also impact the domestic tourism industry. “This will have a major negative impact on the tourism industry throughout Australia, but particularly in smaller regional areas, where tourism is a major contributor to job creation and the local economy.” “Many small tourism operators barely survived the global financial crisis and were looking forward to solid trading conditions, but the double impact of high dollar and high interest rates will make their recovery that much harder,” Mr Hingerty said.“We welcome the political debate about what can be done to make the retail banks more responsive to the concerns of my industry and small businesses alike,” Mr Hingerty said.