The vital Australian tourism businesses responsible for bringing a large percentage of international visitors here each year need certainty on the future of JobKeeper beyond March in order to ensure they are able to support the Australian inbound tourism rebound post COVID.
Inbound tour operators (ITO), the businesses which sell Australian tourism product across the world, have had no income since March when international borders closed and they are unlikely to see any bookings until these borders re-open. ITOs continue to hold forward bookings for future international visitors and have lost millions of dollars in unpaid invoices following the sudden closure of borders.
“ATEC is calling on the Government to provide clarity for Australian ITOs and to assure these businesses that the JobKeeper lifeline will still be available post March 2021, helping them retain valuable skilled staff while they have no revenue,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said.
“These ITOs represent a small number of tourism businesses but deliver a huge amount of business with more than 65% of Australian tourism businesses relying on an ITO for some percentage of their international bookings.
“Importantly, 75% of international visitor spending in regional Australia is facilitated by an ITO and they will be a vital part of the rebuilding of our international tourism success post COVID.”
Mr Shelley said Australia had lost around a third of its ITO business in 2020 and a recent ATEC survey of this group showed JobKeeper was critical to the future survival of the remaining businesses.
“These businesses have identified JobKeeper as being the most important support measure for their survival with overhead subsidies and cash flow grants being other valuable supports which would help secure their future.
“On behalf of these businesses, and the future of inbound tourism, we are imploring the Government to make clear to the industry what support they can expect until international borders reopen.
“This is a small number of crucial businesses which will play a huge role in getting Australia back to market and bringing our future visitors here. We know their value in the export tourism chain and the vast amount of business they facilitate, we just need to get them through until international travel is once again possible.
“Pre-COVID, our inbound tourism sector was a thriving part of the economy generating $45bn in visitor spending and supporting thousands of jobs across the country. The industry had, and continues to have a huge future and we can’t afford to lose our connection to this opportunity.
“Hundreds of thousands of tourism businesses across Australia, from hotels to tourism attractions and the businesses that support them, rely on ITOs to supply thousands of international customers. They also directly and indirectly employ 1 in 13 Australians with many of those jobs in regional Australia..
“The risk in the Government not supporting these businesses to remain solvent until the international borders reopen would be a disaster for the Australian tourism industry. Supporting Australian ITO businesses is supporting the future of Australian tourism.”
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