The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has urged the federal government to create a clear roadmap for the reopening of the country’s international border, along with financial certainty to the travel supply sector.
CATO members are responsible for over $5 billion in future travel credits currently held with overseas suppliers, and the organisation has warned that without its members, these funds could be lost, with devastating consequences for Aussie travel agents and travellers.
And while roughly half of CATO’s members now offer some domestic product, the volumes are not sufficient to guarantee business survival, according to managing director Brett Jardine.
“CATO members represent the backbone of Australian outbound travel, and their expertise and skills are essential to enable Australians to travel safely when borders eventually reopen,” he said.
“It is crucial that they are supported to ensure their survival, as the border closures are extended.”
CATO is calling on the government to develop a clear roadmap for the safe opening of Australia’s international border, which is now expected to remain closed until mid-2022, according to the recently released Federal Budget papers
The council is also seeking certainty for “adequate” financial support to ensure the survival of businesses and retention of critical, skilled staff while Australia’s international border remains closed.
CATO argues that current loan schemes through banks are not working for travel industry businesses due to government and bank policies. Instead, it wants revenue-contingent, government-issued loans.
The council also wants the government to recognise the need for support for larger travel businesses that will lead recovery through employment and marketing spend.