The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has urged the federal government to assure the extension of JobKeeper beyond March 2021 or risk a mass exodus of inbound tour operators (ITOs).
ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said ITOs are responsible for bringing a large percentage of international visitors here each year, and need certainty on the future of JobKeeper beyond March so they can support the post-COVID inbound tourism rebound.
“ATEC is calling on the government to provide clarity for Australian ITOs and to assure these businesses that the JobKeeper lifeline will still be available post-March 2021, helping them retain valuable skilled staff while they have no revenue,” he said.
“These ITOs represent a small number of tourism businesses, but deliver a huge amount of business, with more than 65 per cent of Australian tourism businesses relying on an ITO for some percentage of their international bookings.
“Importantly, 75 per cent of international visitor spending in regional Australia is facilitated by an ITO, and they will be a vital part of the rebuilding of our international tourism success post-COVID.”
Shelley said Australia had lost around a third of its ITO business in 2020 and a recent ATEC survey of this group showed JobKeeper was critical to the future survival of the remaining businesses.
“These businesses have identified JobKeeper as being the most important support measure for their survival, with overhead subsidies and cash flow grants being other valuable supports which would help secure their future,” he said.
“On behalf of these businesses, and the future of inbound tourism, we are imploring the government to make clear to the industry what support they can expect until international borders reopen.
“This is a small number of crucial businesses which will play a huge role in getting Australia back to market and bringing our future visitors here.
“We know their value in the export tourism chain and the vast amount of business they facilitate. We just need to get them through until international travel is once again possible.
“The risk in the government not supporting these businesses to remain solvent until the international borders reopen would be a disaster for the Australian tourism industry. Supporting Australian ITO businesses is supporting the future of Australian tourism.”
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