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Ecotourism Australia questions ‘optimistic’ budget assumptions

Ecotourism Australia questions ‘optimistic’ budget assumptions
October 7, 2020

While Ecotourism Australia acknowledges that the Federal Government’s budget offers some support for the tourism industry they highlight that the budget assumptions are optimistic and reliant on domestic borders reopening, an effective vaccine being developed and delivered, and the tax breaks given to people being spent.

The Budget includes strong support for regions, additional budget for Tourism Australia, support for tourism on the Great Barrier Reef and an attractive tax loss carry back initiative which will allow business to invest in their own recovery.

Personal tax cuts will hopefully lift domestic demand and encourage people to move beyond the capital cities and explore further afield.

Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive, Rod Hillman highlights that these budget assumptions are not however guaranteed, and time will tell if the optimism is warranted.

Hillman notes that “we were hoping for more on three major issues.

1.With international borders projected to stay closed until 2021, regional tourism businesses, especially those more than a four-hour drive from a capital city really need further support.

2.Many of these businesses have been closed an extended period of time and those in the north of Australia will need to wait till at least March 2021 for their season to start. JobKeeper has proven itself to be vital for these businesses, however the budget hasn’t recognised this.

3.The tax loss carry back initiative is excellent for those tourism businesses that are operational and have the capacity to invest in their business. However, many are not. All businesses are trying to manage COVID restrictions, but a large number of tourism operators are also trying to recover from bushfires, drought and floods. It will be an enormous challenge for tourism businesses to now find further resources in order to take advantage of this initiative.

The domestic recovery for regions close to capital cities has been welcome, but travel behaviour has changed compared to pre COVID times.

Hillman adds “Domestic travellers generally do not take part in the same number of tourism activities that international tourists do. This means that accommodation occupancy rates can be healthy but tour operators delivering services like dive trips, 4x4 adventures, kayaking and whale watching simply don’t have the pre-COVID numbers.

“This decline is amplified by the COVID social distancing requirements greatly reducing the number of people allowed on each trip. These activity-based tourism businesses need ongoing support until international markets re-open and operators can return to pre-COVID levels.

“Regionally based tourism is the backbone of many communities throughout Australia.

“It supplies sustainable employment, investment and in many cases is the glue that can hold a community together.

“These businesses need to be supported through the recovery phase so they are in a position to rebound.”

Image of Whale Watching at Hervey Bay courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland. Ecotourism Australia highlight that tour operators delivering services like dive trips, 4x4 adventures, kayaking and whale watching simply don’t have the pre-COVID numbers.

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15th March 2019 - Funding helps complete Far North Queensland ecotourism experience 

10th August 2018 - Lets Go Surfing attains Ecotourism Certification

1st June 2018 - New walking trail and ecotourism project planned for coastal strip north of Cairns

23rd July 2015 - Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification Gains Global Approval

13th January 2014 - Queensland national park ecotourism proposals move to next stage

4th October 2013 - Conference to explore ecotourism and global tourism megatrends

11th October 2012 - Ecotourism leaders say Australia should focus on high-end tourism

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