Tourism Operators in Victoria Want More Flights in Federal Rescue Package

March 16, 2021 Updated: March 16, 2021

Victoria’s tourism operators are requesting the federal government add four more regional airports, including Tullamarine, to the $1.2 billion federal tourism rescue package.

In a co-signed letter to federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, the operators said they are “deeply disappointed” with the fact that Avalon remains the only Victorian airport in the rescue package so far and calls on the federal governments to add Tullamarine, Albury, Bendigo, and Mildura airports to the package.

“The vast majority of regional Victoria missed out—and disproportionately—compared with regional areas in other parts of the country,” the tourism operators said.

The operators argued that their businesses were still severely impacted by the loss of both domestic and international tourists due to the border closures, with a 98 percent decline year-on-year of international passengers through Melbourne airport.

“Not only does most of regional Victoria miss out under the current design, but the unintended consequences of this initiative is we become a source market for other states and territories,” they said.

The Morrison Government package, announced last week, will provide 800,000 half-price flight tickets for domestic travellers to selected destinations in Australia. Scheduled to run from April to July this year, the program is seen as a new support for the hard-hit tourism industry after JobKeeper ends on March 28.

The program will be launched in Cairns this week, with Tourism Australia meeting with local operators and industry to discuss details.

“We want Australians to do their patriotic duty and book a holiday, and that’s why we’re turbo-charging confidence by providing 800,000 half-price airfares to tourist destinations around the country,” Tourism Minister Tehan said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Every dollar spent on a holiday in Australia is a dollar that supports tourism jobs and businesses, so we want people to book their holiday through a travel agent, stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and try tourism experiences.”

The main beneficiaries of the package include Qantas, Virgin and some smaller regional carriers. The initial flight destinations include 13 regions all over the country, five of which are in Queensland, with Avalon the only one in Victoria.

The size of the package has met with criticism from both Flight Centre’s managing director Graham Turner and the tourism industry.

“It is a very small, very meagre package at best,” Turner told Nine last week. “I don’t think this is going to help at all, really. It is about the borders. Keeping the domestic borders open and getting the international borders open as soon as possible.”