Predictions from Australia’s chief health bureaucrat that Australia’s international border is unlikely to reopen before 2022 highlights the critical need for ongoing government support for the travel industry, according to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).
The association’s CEO, Darren Rudd, said that while he hoped Department of Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy was being “ultra-conservative” in his prediction that international travel is unlikely to resume until at least 2022, it will be dependent on the rollout and uptake of the COVID vaccine not only in Australia, but abroad.
“Until international travel resumes, the reality is that Australia’s travel and tourism sector needs ongoing government support,” he said.
Rudd said he has written to key political decision-makers to reinforce the need for ongoing tailored support for the sector, including an evolution of JobKeeper – albeit under a different name.
“I have written to a range of key decision-makers within the federal government, including the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, to formally raise the need for modification to the design and implementation of the support program for our sector,” he said.
“This is in addition to our ongoing formal and informal discussions over the Christmas break at a ministerial, political and departmental level around the pressing need to finesse the implementation of the government’s historic $128 million support package.”
Border restrictions permitting, Rudd plans to be in Canberra for the first week of the Parliamentary sitting to meet with key parliamentary representatives.
“In speaking to parliamentarians from a range of parties and independents, we are confident they understand the critical importance of keeping the sector afloat,” he said.
“We now need that to be translated into a renamed and repurposed JobKeeper program commencing April 1 specifically for the travel and tourism sector.”
AFTA’s chief noted that discussions with Austrade and the Australian Taxation Office were also ongoing.
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