ATEC calls for international borders to open within six months

Unsurprisingly, Australia has officially recorded its largest decrease in overseas arrivals and departures on record.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures for April recorded a 99.7 per cent decrease on the same period last year.

“This is the beginning of what will be a deep and protracted downturn for our export tourism industry and there is absolutely no end in sight,” Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Covid has simply decimated our $45 billion export tourism industry which now faces a very difficult future with many businesses unlikely to last the distance while there is so much uncertainty surrounding the reopening of international borders.

“While JobKeeper is a critical part of the business survival package in supporting the retention of valuable staff, the commercial challenge of meeting the costs of fixed overheads over 12 months without revenue will be a bridge too far for many.

“While there is some relief for businesses who can connect to domestic tourists, for many tourism businesses who have built their strength on international visitation, the prognosis is dire.”

ATEC’s survey of export tourism businesses across Australia suggests half of these tourism businesses will fail if borders are not opened in the coming six months.

“Domestic tourism simply won’t be enough to plug the $45 billion hole left by our international visitors,” said Shelley

“Consumer confidence, employment insecurity and budget priorities will all be major factors in the spending choices of Australians and travel is likely to be one of the discretionary expenses people choose to do without.

“These issues, coupled with the business costs of social distancing, will put many thousands of tourism businesses under enormous strain and many will simply choose not to reopen or will quickly fail.

“The Government’s JobKeeper program has helped to support thousands of tourism businesses to hold on.  We know most of them can remain viable once business returns, but in the meantime they will continue to need support.”