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Tourism leaders look for Federal rescue package amid Coronavirus fears

Tourism leaders look for Federal rescue package amid Coronavirus fears
March 6, 2020

Industry groups including the Australian Tourism Industry Council and Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) are calling on the Federal Government to provide more funding to help turnaround a calamitous drop in tourism numbers following the Coronavirus outbreak.

Travel bans and ongoing health fears have seen airline bookings to Australia fall dramatically, with bookings from the UK dropping by around 50% in the past month, compared to the same time last year.

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has today expressed its fears that the tourism industry is being threatened with substantial job losses and business closures due to the downturn in overseas arrival while Tourism Research Australia (TRA) has today released its State of the Industry 2018/19 Report, highlighting the importance of the tourism industry to Australia’s economy, and amplifying the crucial need for support from all levels of Government to recover from the devastating bushfire and Coronavirus crises.

Speaking to the Senate economic committee yesterday, Federal Department of Treasury Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy said the Coronavirus could cut “at least” 0.5 percentage points from the nation’s economic growth in the March quarter. This comes on top of the 0.2% slowdown on growth from this summer’s bushfires.

The Federal Government this week added South Korean to its travel ban list that includes China and Iran. It also introduced restrictions for travellers from Italy that included enhanced screenings.

The tourism sector is calling on Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham to double the fund announced in the wake of the bushfire crisis to address the “unprecedented” hit to the industry.

Pledging that support will be forthcoming, Senator Birmingham advised “as the Prime Minister has made clear, more help is on the way as we carefully plan further responses to this crisis that are carefully targeted to help those most affected, seeking to save businesses and jobs.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council Chief Executive, Daniel Gschwind said the Federal Government needed to match the $76 million funding allocated following the bushfires, telling the Guardian Australia “the coronavirus is having a devastating impact on our businesses, our staff and our communities.”

TRA’s State of the Industry 2018/19 Report does not cover the period impacted by bushfires and Coronavirus crises, reporting positive results for the year to 30th June 2019, with an increase in visitation, expenditure, employment and number of tourism businesses in Australia.

Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said while the report does not encompass the recent period impacted by bushfires and Coronavirus, it is a strong reminder that tourism is a solid pillar for Australia’s economy.

Mariani advised “the figures speak for themselves. The industry has well and truly achieved its targets set in the (Victorian) Government’s 2020 Tourism Strategy, having now cracked over $146.4 billion in total tourism spend across Australia.

“We’ve seen 8.6 million international visitors who have spent close to $45 billion in our country, and while we are delighted by these numbers, we cannot forget that sadly this is what is currently at risk as Coronavirus takes hold globally.

“To put it simply, the sector needs all the help it can get to repair and rebuild. We already know that we aren’t going to see the same positive results in the coming quarter, but we need to work together to get back there.”

Images: Kakadu Cultural Tours (top, courtesy of Tourism Australia) and Chinese visitors on Victoria's Great Ocean Road (courtesy of Visit Victoria).

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13th September 2019 - Tourism Australia confirms Phillipa Harrison as new Managing Director

14th August 2019 - ATIC welcomes TRA’s record-breaking Australian tourism data

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21st April 2019 - Queensland Government aims to attract millions of Chinese tourists with new card payment scheme 

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12th November 2018 - QTIC shares details of five point plan to improve safety in Whitsunday waters

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2nd October 2017 - Chinese tourists changing their spending patterns

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