Grim outlook for tourism jobs after largest fall in 16 years

The number of jobs in the tourism sector fell by three per cent in the year to March, marking the largest decline in 16 years.

The drop was largely the result of the devastating summer bushfires, with regional tourism operators the worst affected.

But these figures are expected to pale in comparison to the figures for the June quarter, which will be released next month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Almost 90 per cent of operators are currently using JobKeeper to keep staff employed during the Covid-19 crisis.

Adele Labine-Romain, from Deloitte, told the ABC that states with less restrictions were in a much better position to manage the crisis than Victoria which is under stage 4 restrictions.

“They are redirecting the money they would have spent interstate and overseas to support the local industry right now,” she said.

According to Deloitte, just under half of Victoria’s total visitor spend of $32 billion comes from Victorians travelling in their own state, 25 per cent from interstate visitors and 28 per cent from foreigners.

“That is why it was important for people to be able to travel domestically,” said Labine-Romain.

“Inter and intra state travel was meant to be the saving grace for tourism in the pandemic, but in Victoria that can’t happen now because of the lockdowns.”

But the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has previously warned that domestic travel will still leave 35 per cent of businesses out of the loop

The ATEC survey of 500 tourism operators showed 44 per cent said they would face closure within six to 12 months without government support.

Seventy-seven per cent of operators that relied on foreign visitors said they would be out of business in the next year unless international tourism was allowed.

“While the domestic tourism market may provide some support to industry businesses, this will in no way significantly supplant the yield derived from international visitor spend,” ATEC managing director Petee Shelley said.

“Expectations on the travel budget capacity of our domestic market are unrealistic given diminished consumer confidence, perceived economic insecurity, and disrupted leave entitlements experienced by many Australians this year.”