Australia’s tourism industry is seeking additional financial support from the federal government after the former chief health officer Brendan Murphy warned international travel would be unlikely this year even with a CCP virus vaccine rollout imminent.
Murphy, who is the current secretary of the Health Department, told the ABC on Monday that: “Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus, and it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time.”
This news has prompted concern from the tourism sector with Australia’s peak tourism body pleading with the federal government to provide financial support to the travel industry for the rest of the year and beyond.
Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond has called on the government and the National Cabinet to agree upon a consistent protocol for state restrictions.
She said there is no hope that the tourism industry recovering with international borders closed as the domestic holidaymakers’ expenditure does not fill the $250 million a day void left by international travel.
“Essentially your average Chinese visitor to Australia probably spends $8,500 while they’re here,” She said. “Your average Aussie who heads off for a holiday is probably spending about $1,500,” Osmond told the ABC on Tuesday.
Osmond warned that there needs to be some “systemic and strategic thought process on what it will take to keep the industry afloat.”
“The government is going to have to think very seriously how it supports this industry for the next couple of years, not just the next couple of months if it wants to have a tourism industry when we actually reopen our international borders,” she said.
She suggested the federal government consider more stimulus packages for the industry, potentially as an extension of the JobKeeper supplement.
However, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg signalled on Monday that is unlikely JobKeeper or other cash-based payments will continue beyond March.
“I have made it very clear that JobKeeper is legislated to the end of March and it is our intention for the JobKeeper Program to end then,” Frydenberg said. He noted though that the government will continue to roll out different types of support to the country where support is needed.
“For example, with $100 million-plus program for travel agents, who have been hit hard, as the tourism sector more generally, as well as increased support for the aviation sector,” he said.