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Call for JobKeeper underspend to be allocated to revive Australian tourism

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

Tourism industry stakeholders are a calling for surplus money from the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program be used to support the tourism and hospitality sector.

Last week the Federal Government conceded a $60 billion forecasting error in the total spend for the program, with many fewer workers registered for it than originally reported

With just 3.5 million workers currently enrolled for the $1500 fortnightly payments, the tourism and hospitality stakeholders are calling for the surplus funds be directed directly to support their sectors beyond the six-month JobKeeper end-date.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said JobKeeper was an “excellent program” and he wanted it expanded to offer targeted support to the tourism and hospitality industries beyond the six-month end date.

In addition, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) want the tourism industry to benefit from the unallocated JobKeeper funds with Managing Director Peter Shelley stating “export tourism has been the hardest hit export industry this year.

“From the bushfires which saw our peak tourist season disappear to the fact we will not see any international visitors before next Summer, 2020 will be remembered as the year from hell for export tourism.

“Tourism is a huge part of Australia’s economy and export tourism has been one of our strongest growth industries over the past decade, delivering more than $45 billion in visitor spending last year - it’s an industry we can’t afford to lose.

“For the thousands of export tourism businesses who are ATEC members, and the entire tourism industry, the suggestion of additional support provides those businesses greater confidence to keep going and ride out their toughest year.”

Shelley said while domestic tourism would see some recovery in coming months, the inbound industry would continue to have little income well into next year, and even then at a greatly diminished level.

He added “this morning ATEC met with over 40 of the country’s major inbound tour operators (ITOs), the businesses which provide travel services to a huge proportion of our nine million international visitors each year.

“These businesses feed international visitors into our regions and help support the one million people employed in the tourism industry across Australia, but this year their contribution to our economy will be negligible.

“These businesses are a major part of our industry’s supply chain and, come September, will have no income and no way to continue to employ the small number of people they have kept on the books.

“These businesses provide a vital role in the tourism supply chain and without these them, we will face huge obstacles in getting back into the international visitor marketplace and regaining the ground we have lost, so any measures that support their continued existence will be a huge benefit to tourism businesses across the country.

“Since January ATEC has been talking to the Government to ensure they understand the plight of tourism businesses across Australia. We are pleased to see the Government has once again heard the needs of the tourism industry and is looking to act and help ensure the long-term viability of our $45 billion export tourism industry.”

Encouragingly, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the tourism sector “could be one sector in need of further support”, telling the ABC “that’s what we’ll look at in the context of the economic situation at the time.”

Image courtesy of Air Wilpena.

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12th May 2020 - Village Roadshow Chief Executive calls for JobKeeper extension as Queensland Government’s Coronavirus easing roadmap suggests reopening of theme parks, entertainment venues and stadiums in June

11th May 2020 - Tourism Council WA welcomes tourism recovery guidelines

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6th May 2020 - Tourism businesses in Commonwealth National Parks to receive financial relief

5th May 2020 - Tourism Rebound Taskforce established for Northern Territory

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

9th April 2020 - ATIC welcomes JobKeeper payment scheme

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