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Regional Australia needs targeted support for tourism businesses
Australian Regional Tourism (ART) is calling for targeted support for regional tourism businesses to not only bolster recovery now, but action to drive a stronger, more resilient industry for the future.
With the Coronavirus pandemic having the tourism industry hard, and with regional areas far from immune to the challenges being faced, the body highlights that “JobKeeper payments have been a lifeline to so many businesses”.
However, with the program set to conclude at the end of March, ART fears tough times are ahead for operators in some regional destinations, noting that “the fears and challenges being faced are further exacerbated by domestic border closures and endless snap announcements from State and Territory Governments.
The Art states that “while JobKeeper has been the saviour for so many it has been far from a perfect solution, instead causing a range of other challenges, including ability to access and keep skilled staff.
“Frustrations are now brewing around the perception that tourism in regional Australia has recovered, when the overly optimistic sentiment could not be further from reality.”
ART Chair Coralie Bell said just this time last year, regional tourism businesses were in the depths of a bushfire crisis, devastation that was faced on the back of prolonged drought, and quickly followed by floods and then COVID-19.
Bell explained “positive signs are visible in some destinations, with businesses experiencing good trade over the recent summer weeks, but the goal of 'recovery' is far from achieved.
"There have been enough handouts, we want to see the industry come out of bushfires and COVID-19 stronger and ready to thrive - not just survive until the money stops.”
ART is advocating for governments to partner with industry to provide support that is linked to outcomes that strengthen the industry to not only survive, but to develop robust businesses ready to pull through future challenges.
The regional visitor economy needs urgent action to provide:
• Reliable and useful tourism data to support sustainable planning and decision-making,
• Initiatives that support regional dispersal, we know visitors will travel 3-4 hours from major population centres and this ongoing challenge has only been amplified,
• Programs and initiatives to address skills shortages, and
• Industry development to build a stronger and more resilient communities.
Bell added "all levels of government need to work together to enable key infrastructure to support tourism growth into the future, from new parks to sporting precincts, better tourism road access and more global connectivity, the lists are already put together - let's get it done.
"The growth of sustainable businesses in regional Australia is not a new conversation, the needs of industry are as they've always been with the urgency skyrocketing, but this doesn't mean more public money handouts.".
Acting as a hub for collaboration, cooperation, ideas generation, knowledge sharing and networking, Australian Regional Tourism (ART) is the peak national body representing regional tourism practitioners.
On behalf of its members, ART advocates for sustainable regional development and amplifies key messages to government, other industries and industry sectors, researchers, educators and the public.
Image: The Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Credit: Tourism WA.
19th January 2021 - Tourism Australia Managing Director predicts top global travel trends for 2021
13th January 2021 - South Australian tourism sector seeks extension of JobKeeper beyond March 2021
29th December 2020 - Preparing for a tourism revival in 2021
23rd December 2020 - ABS figures show part-time tourism jobs exceeding full-time positions for first time
18th December 2020 - Cabinet reshuffle sees Dan Tehan named new Federal Tourism Minister
8th December 2020 - GSCORE helps local tourism operators enhance their marketing skills
4th December 2020 - Mary Valley Rattler attraction able to maintain operation with JobKeeper support
10th August 2020 - Geraldton selected to host 2021 WA Regional Tourism Conference
18th July 2020 - Thousands back ATIC petition for retention of JobKeeper allowance
17th February 2020 - Research shows art experiences can revitalise regional tourism
20th November 2018 - Australian Regional Tourism announces new Chair
21st September 2018 - Regional Tourism marketing boards unite on destination strategies
24th August 2018 - NSW sets ambitious regional tourism target
26th August 2016 - Tasmanian Government backs rail trail projects to boost regional tourism
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