ATEC: Industry welcomes helping hand but will it be enough

Published on : Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a range of support measures, particularly those focused on safeguarding the future of the beleaguered tourism export sector.

While not the perfect support package, with many operators unlikely to receive a direct benefit, tourism businesses across the country have indicated they will potentially benefit from some measures, especially those in regional and remote areas as well as vital supply chain distributors.

“The challenge export tourism businesses face is staying afloat until international borders reopen. With JobKeeper off the table, the ability to retain staff while revenue is at an all-time low will be very difficult,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said of the announcement.

“The past 12 months has seen many tourism businesses with little or no income and many would have already gone to the wall without the JobKeeper support.

“On the positive the package will deliver much needed support to regions dependent on international visitors with the flight subsidy program and other measures aimed at supporting and re-invigorating key destinations.

“The extension of the Travel Agents grants program will be critical for the commercial survival of the inbound tour operator businesses which have underpinned the success of our inbound tourism industry for the past 50 years by being the primary distribution channel for international visitors travelling to Australia.

“The loan scheme will also provide an important safety net for many businesses but there will still be countless operators making the tough decision to shed valuable skilled employees without the continuation of JobKeeper.

“It’s critical state governments recognise the importance of their borders remaining open and all governments commit to a tourism restart timeline which is vital to the survival of thousands of small tourism businesses across the country.

“The next step will be to see our international visitors back but while the date remains uncertain, our export tourism businesses will continue to need support and this package will go some way in helping them continue their scaled-down operations.

“It is vital these businesses survive through until our borders open so they can help the industry quickly reconnect with international visitors and start to sell these regional tourism products to overseas guests.

“I think we all agree it’s an imperfect package, but we welcome the components which support the valuable $45bn inbound tourism sector. The concern shared by many is will it be enough to support businesses reliant on international tourism which continues to have an uncertain restart date.”

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