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Bushfires and Coronavirus impact Australian tourism with no imminent respite
Bushfires and continuing COVID-19 restrictions have devastated the Australian tourism industry, particularly in regional areas, with the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) warning that domestic tourism may not fill the void left by foreign visitors.
With new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today showing that the number of jobs in the tourism sector fell by 3% in the year to March, the largest fall in 16 years, (ATEC) has warned that without assistance and borders reopening some operators are facing closure
With the fall in jobs seemingly driven by the bushfires, which burned almost 16 million hectares of land in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, ABS spokeswoman Amanda Clark explained "tourism activities tend to be labour intensive and this data shows the impact of the bushfires and the early stages of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.”
With 702,700 tourism industry jobs noted at the end of March, the figure is expected to fall further when statistics for the June quarter are released next month.
With border closures in place, ATEC believes that even if domestic travel was rebooted, it wouldn't help 35% of businesses that it has surveyed.
In a survey of 500 tourism operators which ATEC provided to the ABC, 44% said they would face closure within six to 12 months without government support.
75% of operators that relied on foreign visitors said they would be out of business in the next year unless international tourism was allowed.
With the survey conducted in June as some state's border restrictions began to ease, ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley advised “while the domestic tourism market may provide some support to industry businesses, this will in no way significantly supplant the yield derived from international visitor spend.
"Expectations on the travel budget capacity of our domestic market are unrealistic given diminished consumer confidence, perceived economic insecurity, and disrupted leave entitlements experienced by many Australians this year."
The spokesman said almost 90% of operators were using the Federal Government's JobKeeper program to keep staff employed.
According to consultants Deloitte, visitors to Victoria - including local, interstate and international - spend about $32 billion a year, with the bulk of that coming from Victorians.
About half of that (47%) comes from Victorian's travelling in their own state, 25% from interstate visitors and 28% from overseas visitors.
Deloitte's tourism lead, Adele Labine-Romain explained that the figures showed the importance of people being be able to travel domestically, commenting “inter and intra state travel was meant to be the saving grace for tourism in the pandemic, but in Victoria that can't happen now because of the lockdowns."
Labine-Romain said it was hoped that people stuck within their state's borders would spending their travel dollars locally, rather than overseas.
Last year domestic and international tourists spent about $150 billion across the country.
Images: Paddlesteamer on the Murray River (top) and win tourism in South Australia's Barossa Valley (below).
18th July 2020 - Thousands back ATIC petition for retention of JobKeeper allowance
9th April 2020 - ATIC welcomes JobKeeper payment scheme
21st July 2020 - Sustainable tourism infrastructure projects announced for Shoalhaven
16th July 2020 - Queensland Government ends Cairns Global Tourism Hub process
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