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Bushfires and Coronavirus impact Australian tourism with no imminent respite

Bushfires and Coronavirus impact Australian tourism with no imminent respite
August 6, 2020

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).

Related Articles

2nd August 2020 - Activities halted and facilities closed as Victorian Government introduces Stage four Coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne

21st July 2020 - Industry welcomes Federal Government’s announcement of JobKeeper extension

18th July 2020 - Thousands back ATIC petition for retention of JobKeeper allowance

19th June 2020 - Tourism and Transport Forum calls for extension of JobKeeper for another six months

26th May 2020 - Call for JobKeeper underspend to be allocated to revive Australian tourism

9th April 2020 - ATIC welcomes JobKeeper payment scheme

2nd August 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council advises dedicated program of support required to survive latest lockdown

28th July 2020 - Tasmanian Government delivers record investment into parks and reserves to boost tourism

25th July 2020 - Marketing campaigns help Geraldton experience soaring tourism numbers

21st July 2020 - Sustainable tourism infrastructure projects announced for Shoalhaven

16th July 2020 - Queensland Government ends Cairns Global Tourism Hub process

15th July 2020 - South Australian nature-based tourism destinations to receive funding boost

12th July 2020 - Federal Government to provide $233 million backing for tourism in national parks

11th July 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council welcomes business support package for ‘battered’ tourism industry 

7th July 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council concerned over re-imposed Melbourne lockdown

25th June 2020 - New study highlights the value of arts festivals in reviving South Australia’s post COVID-19 tourism

6th June 2020 - Easing of Western Australia’s Coronavirus restrictions sees Premier tell people to get out and do what they enjoy

23rd June 2020 - ATEC warns domestic travel not a simple fix for Australia’s tourism industry

13th May 2020 - ATEC highlights the harsh reality of a tourism industry in crisis

30th April 2020 - ATEC part of new Tourism Restart Taskforce to strengthen industry COVID-19 response

22nd April 2020 - ATEC considers diverse and competitive airlines to be critical to Australian tourism

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