Tourism council demands more funding support, faster vaccine roll-out to keep industry afloat

Tourism council demands more funding support, faster vaccine roll-out to keep industry afloat

Photo courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) has made three pleas to the Federal Government as a recent survey shows the dire impact of COVID-19 on businesses now that JobKeeper has been withdrawn.

ATIC has made three demands including more funding for discount flights, targeted support for affected tourism businesses and a faster vaccine rollout.

"The Morrison Government must invest more in domestic discount air seats, which are marketable to all destinations including every capital city, to bring confidence to interstate travel," ATIC executive director Simon Westaway said.

"All capitals and our entire domestic flight network need to be eligible for discount fares through the Government's Tourism Aviation Network Support Program to help reset our industry.

"Ongoing border restrictions require further targeted federal financial assistance to still struggling tourism businesses until the risks of the virus outbreak are reduced by the vaccine rollout."

ATIC survey has found more than a third of businesses are cutting staff and downsizing due to the withdrawal of JobKeeper, with many forced to close because of ongoing low consumer confidence in travel.

"38 per cent of Australian tourism businesses have told us they are cutting jobs and reducing workforce hours to stay viable with the ending of JobKeeper," ATIC executive director Simon Westaway said.

"60 per cent of tourism enterprises are in a weaker position since COVID-19, 47 per cent remain open but have fewer staff, and travel bookings and business activity are nationally down 25 per cent at March end."

Westaway emphasised the end of JobKeeper was having a major impact on exposed sectors, as predicated by the Federal Treasury, with tens of thousands of at-risk jobs connected to Australian tourism.

"Australia's tourism industry lost an astonishing $44 billion in domestic visitor spending in year 2020 plus $34 billion in international visitor losses," he said.

"With a workforce peak of around one million before the virus, our sector has lost over 185,000 direct and indirect jobs through the pandemic and is now the fastest falling employment category.

"The situation facing struggling tourism enterprises in our capital cities, where the bulk of these businesses exist, will see worsening levels of job losses and inevitable business closures."

The executive noted operators of tours and experiences across Australia, many by small family businesses, remained heavily impacted by hard border restrictions and are still waiting on a return of consumer confidence to travel.

"This is a critical period for Australian tourism. Tourism businesses no longer have the protection of JobKeeper or a rapid national vaccine rollout to help rebuild confidence in travel," he said.

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