New research has revealed the Aussie tourism industry lost almost $7 billion over the peak summer period as a result of the most recent COVID-19 outbreak and state border closures.
According to the research, commissioned by the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), the Northern Beaches outbreak and the border restrictions imposed on Sydney and NSW residents had completely decimated the peak holiday period, with spending predicted to be down by $6.8 billion from 24 December to 31 January.
The research also forecasts that the lack of international visitors and continuing uncertainty over domestic borders during 2021 will lead to potential job losses of almost 320,000 by September 2021 if the JobKeeper subsidy is not extended.
NSW is expected to take the biggest hit with 118,000 job losses, while Victoria and Queensland will also suffer from the loss of 85,300 and 59,700 jobs respectively.
TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said the extension of JobKeeper, as well as a uniform set of state border restrictions, was critical to ensure that the industry can survive 2021 after a disastrous year in 2020.
“Suggestions that increased domestic travel can replace the lack of international visitation is a complete myth, with the average international tourist spending three times the average domestic tourist and in the case of Chinese tourists – our biggest market pre-Covid – spending over five-and-a-half times,” she said.
“The absence of this high-yield market, the continuing uncertainty around domestic borders and the lack of confidence that the constant border changes create makes it impossible for domestic tourism to compensate for the lack of international travellers.
While health remains the number one priority in the management of COVID-19, Osmond said the prospect of no international travel in 2021 makes the domestic tourism market all the more critical.
“A strong tourism sector is critical to the recovery of the national economy, and the government needs to support our industry over the next 12 months so that we can play our part in the rebuilding of Australia’s bottom line.
“On behalf of tourism operators across the country, TTF urges the federal and state governments to work together with industry and implement a simple set of uniform rules that allow Australians to undertake domestic travel.
“We will also need further support in the form of something that looks, walks and talks like JobKeeper, even if it does not go by this name, if we are to have any chance of surviving then recovering.”
Osmond is not the only industry figure who has called for an evolution of JobKeeper recently.
Earlier this week, Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Darren Rudd revealed that he had written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan to reinforce the need for ongoing tailored support for the sector, including a “renamed and repurposed” JobKeeper program.
Last week, Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway said certainty over the continuation of JobKeeper beyond the end of March was “a major priority” for the industry.
“Measures by federal and state governments to constructively support and work with Australian tourism until local vaccination rates are high and the international border re-opens must occur,” he warned.
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