The embattled tourism industry is calling for targeted support from the federal government, as new research shows one-in-five tourism operators could fail this year due to ongoing travel restrictions.
New research by peak industry body Tourism and Transport Forum found 32,000 tourism businesses risk failing this year due to ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions, The Australian Financial Review reports.
Small business advocates and tourism operators have been pushing for extra support for the $50 billion industry, such as progressive loans and temporary wage assistance, after JobKeeper winds down in March.
Anthea Hammon, board member at Sydney’s iconic Bridge Climb and director of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, told SmartCompany last Wednesday that private attraction businesses have so far missed out on any targeted support from the federal government.
“We’re the end chain of the tourism supply chain,” Hammon said.
“So they’ve helped travel agents, they’ve helped aviation, they’ve helped zoos and aquariums, but attractions and experiences have been left with very little support.”
Hammon said both Bridge Climb and Scenic World are still experiencing a 75% loss of revenue compared to pre-pandemic years.
“Without a recovery in international tourism, the domestic market is just not big enough to make up the slack,” Hammon said.
In recognising the pressure facing tourism operators, some state governments have offered targeted support to encourage interstate travel.
Victoria budgeted $28 million for a Regional Tourism Voucher Scheme, for example, which offers $200 vouchers to any resident who can prove they have already spent $400 on accommodation or attractions in regional Victoria.
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive Peter Strong says unlike other industries, tourism is not yet able to see when it will recover because of there is no definitive date as to when international travel will pick up.
“It’s quite a huge impact,” Strong tells SmartCompany.
Strong expects the tourism industry will bear the brunt of the end of JobKeeper on March 31, however, he does say there will likely be targeted support from the federal government.
“Where and how will be interesting … I expect something will come out at least in the budget, if not beforehand,” he says.