Driven to the wall, transport sector’s plea for help as tourism recovery begins

The ongoing effects of Covid-19 on the wider tourism sector are also being felt by those businesses that transport visitors around.

The effective shutdown of the tourism sector has had a devastating effect on the bus and coach businesses that normally shuttle around half a million passengers every day.

“With Australian tourism at a standstill, tens of thousands of jobs in the bus and coach sector are at severe risk with operators being forced to park a national tour and charter fleet of more than 8,000 large coaches and thousands of mini buses, covering non-public transport services for more than 500,000 coach tour passengers every day,” said Bus Industry Confederation executive director, Michael Apps.

“The reality is that no passengers mean no tours, no charters and no travel.

“Since Covid-19 started and travel restrictions and border closures were announced, we’ve seen most coach operators have no choice but to be either deregister or permanently parked and most staff laid off or on JobKeeper.”

Apps says it will take another 12 to 18 months before the industry is able to transition into its recovery.

“The downturn in tourism is already seeing national and local regional coach businesses on the brink,” he said.

“An extended downturn will severely impact services in our national capital cities and at our tourism icons from the harbour bridge and opera house through the Uluru and the 12 Apostles, as well as regional businesses that rely on us to service their local community tourism destinations, to charter transport trips for the local footy and cricket clubs, and for school swimming and athletic carnivals.

“We need government to step up and do more to protect our industry and the people we support.”

Apps is calling for an extended national relief package to help the sector survive.

“In particular, we have developed a rescue package that includes immediate financial assistance to provide a full diesel rebate, like the mining sector receives, the extension of JobKeeper for our industry beyond September and consideration of a travel rebate of fares to encourage the Australian public to travel across the nation not over it,” he said.

“This will support our local tourism industry and in particular local regional tourism.”