While certain support for Australia’s under-siege tourism industry formed part of the Federal Budget, one industry body sees “no lifeline” in what has thus far been announced.
Adventure Tourism Victoria, a non-profit supporting the state’s more than 40 adventure tourism operators, is calling for dedicated support of Victorian businesses, which are feeling the sting of extended lockdowns following a horrendous bushfire season.
“Our member businesses, some of which have been operating for 20 years, are hurting badly, and this has been compounded by recent JobKeeper cuts,” Adventure Tourism Victoria’s John O’Sullivan, the founding director of Depot Adventures, said in a statement.
“Until international borders open, adventure travel will continue to atrophy as overseas visitors are integral to Victoria’s visitor economy.
“Last year, Victoria had 914,000 international youth visitors who contributed $5.3 billion in visitor expenditure and an additional 130,000 international (non-youth) visitors.
“These visitors stay for longer and spend more than other international visitors to the state.
“Yet, while Victorians are uniquely suffering from the challenges of COVID-19, federal JobKeeper payments continue to reduce.”
O’Sullivan said some of Adventure Tourism Victoria’s members were facing a decrease of 100 per cent of their revenues. Any reduction in federal assistance, he said, would be “a death knell” to these operators.
“The reduced payments have come at a time when interest on the $250,000 Federal Loan Support Package has begun to accrue.
“While we welcome investment into regional Australia, we don’t know how much of this will be directed to Victoria or how tangible this support will be, and our metropolitan members are struggling as much as those in regional Victoria.
“We urge the federal government and Minister Birmingham to provide targeted assistance for the Victorian tourism industry that reflects the additional economic hardship we have endured as the epicentre of the nation’s COVID-19 crisis.”
ATV works to provide support, training and networking opportunities for its more than 40 members, but its current focus is on advocacy following the intense tourism challenges of 2020 – namely the Australian bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main challenges ATV’s members are currently facing include the reduction to the JobKeeper payment from $1,500 to as low as $750 as of 28 September 2020.
ATV said this is making it impossible for many tourism businesses to remain viable as a result of the additional Victorian COVID-19 lockdowns.
Furthermore, the organisation argued that the process of applying for a working holiday visa in Australia is complex and the associated costs are prohibitive as compared with other countries such as New Zealand.
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