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Tourism and hospitality sector calls for cash boost payments and tax relief

Tourism and hospitality sector calls for cash boost payments and tax relief
March 25, 2021

Representatives of Australia’s tourism and hospitality have made fresh calls for targeted support from the Federal Government.

With the JobKeeper relief program set to expire this weekend, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) have each called for targeted and temporary assistance for the hospitality, tourism and accommodation sectors.

Proposing an alternative financial assistance package once JobKeeper ends, TAA National Chief Executive, Michael Johnson has written directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for measures to prevent a catastrophic spike in unemployment once JobKeeper is halted.

TAA’s urgency follows Federal Treasury officials having yesterday advised that they expect up to 150,000 people to lose their jobs across the private sector once JobKeeper ends, with the subsequent loss of associated spending power capable of causing more businesses to fail in the coming months, including many in regional areas.

In its plea to Prime Minister Morrison, TAA has pitched two alternative systems whereby businesses directly impacted by public health orders and which have suffered a drop of 30% or more in revenue over the past year to be eligible to receive a cash boost payment equal to the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tax rate withheld from each employee.

A second option proposed is for a flat $500 top-up for full time employees per week  equivalent to the current rate of JobKeeper.

Johnson, has asked for urgent consideration of the proposal by National Cabinet and for any assistance to run for the duration of the vaccination roll-out, which is expected to take up to six months.

He added “hotels in the major CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne have occupancy rates below 35% and are really struggling to retain skilled staff.”.

Advising that the end of JobKeeper will create “unnecessary hardship” for businesses still affected by health restrictions, AHA Chief Executive, Stephen Ferguson noted “we understand the government restrictions are in place to keep Australians safe and we are proud of the role we have played.

“But the fact remains that while keeping us all safe, these limitations come at tremendous cost to business owners and workers - costs which will continue after the temporary assistance measures like JobKeeper end.”

A recent report by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) into the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on small businesses found that the tourism, accommodation, and hospitality industries were disproportionately affected by bans on non-essential travel, work from home trends and border closures when compared to other industries.

Ferguson also cited results of a recent TAA member survey of accommodation hotels in Sydney which showed that a quarter of employees have been let go while another 15% are expected to be made redundant post-JobKeeper due to the on-going low occupancy rates.

Ferguson went on to say “the Government has closed our international borders and put in place a range of restrictions. With no international visitors, cruise business, conferences or events for the foreseeable future these hotels need all the assistance they can get if they are going to be there when the pandemic ends.”

Image courtesy of Humanforce.

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