Half a million businesses brace for the end of JobKeeper

Across Australia, some 500,000 businesses are set to lose JobKeeper on Sunday, many of them in the wider tourism and events industry.

That will affect about 1.5 million people who have relied on the financial support for the last 12 months.

Despite ongoing pleas from every part of the tourism sector for the financial support to be extended, the federal government has thus far said the program has to come to an end.

Speaking to the ABC, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said JobKeeper has “done its job”.

“It’s been temporary and targeted,” he said. “What we do want to do is provide some targeted support to our tourism industry, and that’s what we’re doing through our aviation and tourism package where we have discounted flights starting at the beginning of April.”

The aviation support package included an ongoing wage subsidy for Qantas workers in international routes until October. But no such deal appears to be in the works for tourism operators who have been equally affected by the ongoing closure of international borders.

Instead, the federal government has been calling for state and territory leaders to do their bit to kickstart domestic tourism by keeping their borders open.

“Because what we want to do is produce confidence,” Tehan told the ABC. “We want people to have the confidence to be able to travel because that is the single-biggest thing that is holding tourism back in this nation at the moment.”

On a more positive note, it appears the discounted airfares program has had an effect on those destinations included in the scheme, with Cairns airport seeing an upward trend in arrivals.

“This month we are looking at 45,000 seats a week and in April we are jumping back to 65,000 to nearly 70,000 seats,” said Cairns Airport head of aviation Garry Porter.