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Specialist support and open borders vital for survival of regional tourism

Specialist support and open borders vital for survival of regional tourism
June 1, 2020

Australian Regional Tourism (ART) is calling for increased support of tourism businesses in navigating the post Coronavirus environment, calling for governments to get regional tourism specialists out into regions and assist businesses as they plan to and begin operating again.

Noting that tourism businesses have felt the full effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, ART highlights that these operators make up a significant proportion of the regional visitor economy and are significant employers in communities.

ART also points to recent payroll data from the Australian Tax Office, as analysed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which indicates the number of employees on the payroll fell 7.3% across the country from mid-March to early May.

ART suggests that further analysis of this data reveals that this figure is actually much higher in regional areas that are heavily reliant on tourism.

While the severity of these figures has been positively impacted by the JobKeeper subsidy, concerns are rising among business owners of how they will be able to manage once the subsidy ends in September. Cash flow in many of these businesses is slow or non-existent and while these operators are optimistic for an influx of visitors, they are also very anxious.

Although safety is their priority, as operators consider reopening their doors to visitors once again, ART Deputy Chair, Donna Foster explains that viability weighs heavily on their minds, stating “for many businesses JobKeeper is holding everything together, but everyone is aware that this has an expiry date and many are unsure how they will manage when the subsidy ends.

“We are hearing over and over that operators desperately need support so they can safely reopen their businesses, they are unsure how social distancing will affect them and what special cleaning requirements will need to be implemented.”

As travel restrictions continue to ease, pressure is still mounting for the opening of all state borders. However, Foster fears that for many regions having their businesses open to ‘local’ visitors alone is simply not viable.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive, Mark Olsen has advised that the North Queensland economy is currently losing $91 million each week and feels that domestic travel needs to be encouraged during the school holidays in June and July.

Olsen noted “the tourism economy in North Queensland is worth $6.4 billion annually, supports 37,400 direct jobs and accounts for 25% of the state’s tourism economic impact despite having only 15% of the population.

“In the Cairns region we are losing $10 million every day that domestic travel is not allowed.”

ART is calling for the opening of all state and territory borders to fully enable domestic travel, noting that this action is essential for providing desperately needed economic flows and the return of jobs in destinations across regional Australia.

Image: Port Douglas. Tourism Tropical North Queensland has advised that the local visitor economy is losing $91 million each week.

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9th April 2020 - ATIC welcomes JobKeeper payment scheme

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22nd March 2020 - NSW and Victoria to close ‘non-essential services’ while South and Western Australia seal borders in response to Coronavirus pandemic

17th February 2020 - Research shows art experiences can revitalise regional tourism

11th February 2020 - 2020 Australian Regional Tourism Convention to be staged in Ballarat

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6th March 2017 - NSW Government encourages regional tourism growth

29th August 2016 - Australian Regional Tourism Network calls for Government to ‘get serious’ about tourism

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