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NSW tourism operators call on Federal Government for targeted support to survive Coronavirus crisis

NSW tourism operators call on Federal Government for targeted support to survive Coronavirus crisis
June 11, 2021

Inbound tourism operators in NSW are calling on the Federal Government for targeted financial support until international borders re-open, warning that no action will force the closure of many businesses and cost the economy billions of dollars.

Australian Attractions Chief Executive, Ken Corbett advises that the tourism industry has been one of the greatest casualties of the COVID pandemic, with businesses that rely on overseas travellers uniquely affected by international border closures. 

With the Federal Government suggesting international borders are unlikely to re-open within the next 12 months, tourism businesses that rely on international visitation are rallying together to call for targeted support to ensure the industry is able to survive the crisis.

Calling for a higher level of support to ensure that the inbound tourism attractions and services sector, which contributes $45 billion to the Australian economy, remains viable into the future, Corbett explains “the (Federal) Government has recognised the importance of the tourism sector with a $94 million zoos and aquariums package, but inbound tourism sectors are falling through the cracks - they are suffering.

“The situation is dire and some businesses are facing imminent closure if the government doesn’t intervene.”

Corbett noted that Sydney and greater Sydney based businesses were particularly disadvantaged, noting that the Sydney CBD served as the gateway for inbound visitors to Australia.

He also pointed to figures released from the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) which shows visitation to the Sydney CBD has fallen more than 40%, as well as surrounding areas including the Blue Mountains.

The TTF has also stressed that domestic visitation simply cannot fill the void left by international tourists, with Chinese travellers spending on average $8500 per trip compared to $1500 for most Australians.

Australian Export Tourism Council Managing Director, Peter Shelley echoes Corbett’s concerns, stating "inbound tour operators (ITOs) are crucial to the export tourism supply chain, connecting Australian tourism products to our lucrative international markets, and yet they face having no revenue until borders reopen.

“ITOs continue to manage strong forward bookings despite having no revenue, but they need support so there’s an industry to come back to on the other side,” he said. “They are not asking for much, just some financial support so they can sustain operations until borders re-open.” 

Australian Attractions is rallying with leading attractions including Scenic World Blue Mountains, Australian Cruise Group and BridgeClimb to call for more Federal Government support, warning that no action will threaten Australia’s ability to compete on the global stage.

Scenic World Managing Director, Anthea Hammon, stressed that many attractions won’t survive another 12 months without international visitors, commenting “there’s a real risk that we will lose some of our core attractions around the country, which will threaten our ability to attract international visitors back to Australia.”

Explaining that the 2021 Federal Budget fell short in addressing the needs of the tourism sector, Hammon went on to say “the Federal Government’s aviation support package is a good start, but we need targeted support that recognises the needs of ITOs and the attractions sector so we can survive this once-in-a-lifetime crisis.”

Australian Cruise Group Executive Chairman, Sudhir Warrier commended the Federal Government and pointed to opportunities to grow the tourism sector in the future.

Warrier noted “Australia has been extremely successful in managing COVID and creating incredibly positive branding and goodwill as a safe destination around the world. We just can’t afford to miss the chance to capitalise on this opportunity.”

However, Corbett added “we need a degree of certainty, good lead time, and the ability to actually look after the inbound tourist, including retraining, securing the right staff. Ironically a large percentage of workers came from the international student and the backpacker sector.

“Our sector is one of the most important export sectors to the country and has taken some 40 years to get where it was pre COVID, yet ironically our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is ignoring the very industry that put him on the map (referring to Prime Minister Morrison’s role as Managing Director of Tourism Australia from 2004 to 2006).”

Shelley says tourism businesses that rely on international tourists are being left to fend for themselves without comprehensive government support, concluding “while many tourism businesses are surviving with domestic visitation, there is a group of uniquely exposed businesses who receive little or no benefit from the current domestic travel stimulus programs.”

Images: Sydney BridgeClimb (top), Ken Corbett (middle) and Anthea Hammon (below).

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8th March 2021 - ATEC highlights the impact of declining inbound tourism on regional communities

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