Half of tourism businesses under threat while international border remains closed

Domestic travel has replaced less than 20 per cent of the revenue received from international visitors, with most export tourism businesses reliant on the JobKeeper supplement to get them this far, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council’s industry ‘Pulse Check’ taken in January.

With borders closed and export tourism businesses unable to access their international markets, 60 per cent are running at less than half of their staff and service capacity with most only surviving with the support of the JobKeeper supplement.

And more than half (55 per cent) of tourism businesses will not survive till September without some kind of government support while international borders remain closed.

“Australian tourism businesses have hung on with the support of JobKeeper but face annihilation once the program ends next month if the Government fails to provide further support,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Tourism businesses were optimistic that by now international borders would be open and they would be seeing visitors return, but all indications are that these businesses face yet another tough year.

“State and Territory governments need to provide certainty in the way they respond to COVID outbreaks and a clear path to reopening international travel that appropriately manages the health risk and effective roll out of vaccines in order to give our industry certainty into the future.”

ATEC is calling on the Federal Government to provide further financial support to the tourism industry and specifically the export tourism businesses which are unable to operate at anywhere near their previous levels.

“Given the success of our export tourism industry over the past decade which saw international visitors contributing more than $350 billion in our economy, we must ensure these businesses survive,” said Shelley.

“Once the borders reopen, these businesses will quickly rebound and once again contribute significantly to our export earnings, support regional economies and build back Australian jobs.”

The global tourism sector has also been crippled and may take four years to recover, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

International arrivals have plunged 74 per cent in 2020 marking the worst year on record for global tourism.

“While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“The harmonisation, coordination and digitalisation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures, including testing, tracing and vaccination certificates, are essential foundations to promote safe travel and prepare for the recovery of tourism once conditions allow.”