Tourism

Tourism Minister eyes potential post-JobKeeper support package for travel industry

Australia’s new Minister for Tourism has provided some hope that targeted government support could be on the way for the country’s battered and bruised travel industry.

Dan Tehan, who took over the federal government’s tourism portfolio from Simon Birmingham last month, told a number of media outlets (including The Guardian), that a potential post-JobKeeper support package for the tourism industry was being considered.

Tehan said that with Australia “very unlikely to see international tourism for the next nine to 12 months”, he has been engaging “heavily” with the industry to work out how the government might be able to help affected businesses stay afloat beyond 31 March.

“I’ll continue to have those discussions, engage with the sector and look to see whether there is specific or targeted support that could be provided or is needed,” he said, according to The Guardian.

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 an evolution of JobKeeper.

The Tourism Minister noted one of the key issues was identifying the parts of Australia’s tourism sector affected by the international slowdown and targeting assistance accordingly, given the decent recovery in the “relatively strong growth” in the domestic market.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not ruled out further support for the travel industry when asked about it last week. However, he said it was “too early to make those calls”.

However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has reportedly rejected calls to extend JobKeeper for the hospitality sector.

Last week, Australian Federation Travel Agents CEO Darren Rudd called for a “renamed and repurposed” JobKeeper program for the travel industry. He is also calling for changes to the implementation of the government’s $128 million support package for agents.

Furthermore, a number of aviation players have joined unions in calling for the implementation of ‘AviationKeeper’ (that is, the extension of JobKeeper for the aviation sector).

Meanwhile, the Small Business Ombudsman suggested the government introduce a HECS-style loan scheme for small businesses.

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