New data has revealed the dramatic cost COVID-19 has had on the Australian tourism industry.
Tourism Research Australia’s quarterly snapshot of its international and domestic visitor survey shows a $6 billion fall in tourist spend, with plunging double-digit numbers of visitor trips and overnight stays as international borders remain firmly closed and interstate travel begins to open up.
The snapshot shows a 60 per cent drop in international visitors in the month of March alone, while domestic trips saw a 39 per cent decrease for the same month.
Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) boss Simon Westaway is calling for commercial and public policy based solutions “not just sympathy” to help tourism businesses get to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Westaway warned the federal government urgently needed to extend and re-target the JobKeeper program to enable tourism businesses in need to retain their remaining workforce until tourism demand recovers.
“ATIC has been consistent in calling for a six-month extension and re-targeting of the JobKeeper program to enable tourism businesses in genuine need to retain their workforce until tourism demand recovers,” he said.
“With this release of terrible national tourism data and the pressing situation in Victoria, a decision on JobKeeper needs to be made.
“Part of our five-point JobKeeper plan is for it to be at least maintained whilst our international border is restricted but, importantly, [it must] include regular seasonal employees, be based on a business’ turnover and review payment levels.
“International travel shutdowns and business restrictions have limited our industry’s ability to also redevelop and reimagine domestic tourism and generate working capital to continue beyond September 2020.”
Westaway said the data released by Tourism Research Australia shows an underlying future sustainability for Australian tourism as both domestic and international tourism sectors grew for the full-year period to end-March, in spite of economic injuring bushfires and onset of coronavirus.
He said a package of measures for Australian tourism needs to be factored into the October Federal Budget, as well as a timeline to complete the Tourism 2030 long-term tourism and visitor economy strategy as a way to better guide both governments and the industry.