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Tourism and Transport Forum calls for extension of JobKeeper for another six months

Tourism and Transport Forum calls for extension of JobKeeper for another six months
June 19, 2020

The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) is warning of hundreds of thousands of job losses and a significant decline in the industry if the Federal Government does not extend its Coronavirus JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme for another six months beyond its planned September end date.

Modelling commissioned by the TTF, and released today, shows monthly job losses rising from 33,000 in August to at least 133,000 by December if JobKeeper ends on schedule, with lost wages soaring from $1.3 billion to $5.3 billion in that same period - even with the return of domestic travel.

TTF has written to the Chair of the Prime Minister's National COVID-19 Commission, painting a bleak picture for the industry and pleading for the JobKeeper payment to be extended until at least March 2021.

TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond told the ABC, "to be perfectly frank, if there isn't JobKeeper or a similar level of support extended to the industry, there won't be much of the tourism industry left this time next year," TTF chief executive Margy Osmond told the ABC.

"At this point in time, the industry is 65% down on the number of jobs it would normally hold.

"So, we're sitting at just over 230,000 jobs in an industry that would normally have about 660,000 direct jobs."

The Federal Government is reportedly reluctant to extend the wage subsidy beyond September, partly because of how difficult it is to define certain sectors which will need ongoing support, such as in tourism.

The ABC has suggested that transitioning people to the JobSeeker unemployment benefit, and keeping it at its now higher rate - either permanently or through an ongoing supplement payment - is being discussed.

The tourism sector argued Coronavirus restrictions had hit it earlier and harder than other industries. Travel restrictions and demands for social isolation at the height of the outbreak crippled tourism, transport and hospitality businesses across the country.

The TTF warned without additional support, many small and medium tourism operators may close their doors for good, with Osmond explaining "the tourism sector is quite unique in this space - we're absolutely governed by what will happen with the borders, both domestic and international."

While the sector has been looking forward to the return of interstate holidaymakers, and the much-hyped 'Trans-Tasman Bubble', Osmond argued it would not solve all of the industry's woes.

She added "we'll probably see less than 100,000 people coming from New Zealand over the six months after we actually open a trans-Tasman bubble, and many of them will actually be visiting friends and family.

"Your average Chinese visitor spends about $8,500 when they're here, compared to probably around $1,500 from a local tourist.

"It's going to take a lot of work to bring that up to scratch, and I can't see that happening."

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the Federal Government was due to review the JobKeeper program at the end of this month.

Image courtesy of Karen Miller.

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