The beleaguered tourism industry is supercharging its appeal to the federal government for more support in its new ‘save the travel industry’ campaign, as the end of JobKeeper edges closer in March.
The campaign, which kicked off on Monday, is led by Matt Leedham, founder of Karryon and Travel to Change the World, and other industry players, including Darren Rudd, chief executive of Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and Dennis Bunnik of the Council of Australian Tour Operators.
The industry groups say that if a targeted rescue package does not kick in as soon as JobKeeper winds up on March 28, only one-in-10 travel agents will survive beyond April.
Matt Leedham, the founder of travel industry news portal Karryon, says he launched the campaign to help support the industry’s efforts throughout what will be another tough year.
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“The outlook for the travel industry is really quite grim,” Leedham tells SmartCompany.
“What we’re trying to do is bring the travel industry together, in the final hour, to see it through until borders reopen,” he says.
The shutting of international borders last year combined with ongoing state border closures have left the entire industry, from travel agencies to attractions, reeling from significant revenue losses between 60% to 99%, according to the industry.
The #Savethetravelindustry campaign includes a Change.org petition, which had accrued 19,500 signatures at the time of writing, and a customised Facebook frame which had been used 6,000 times on the platform as of Monday.
The campaign comes as Darren Rudd of AFTA visits Canberra this week to meet with a range of cabinet ministers including the Tourism Minister Dan Tehan.
AFTA is urging the federal government to improve the $128 million Travel Support Program, which offered cash grants of $1,500 to $100,000 to travel agents, depending on their turnover.
Also on AFTA’s agenda is to call on the federal government to repurpose JobKeeper from April 1, specifically for the tourism sector.
Already, Leedham says the campaign has had a huge response, and he hopes the campaign continues to make consumers aware of the challenges facing tourism businesses.
“We’re really seeing the word getting out there and people doing what they can to get the message out to Australians, because this is as much about consumers as it is about the industry,” Leedham says.
“Hopefully we can get as many signatures as possible.”