Jobs cull imminent for Victoria’s tourism and event sector without further support

One third of Victoria’s tourism and events sector will slash jobs and 13 per cent will close permanently if there is not ongoing support beyond the end of JobKeeper.

That’s the grim forecast by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), with its latest survey of more than 550 tourism operators showing just over half the state’s businesses were trading as normal before the third lockdown, with 42 per cent still closed or operating with reduced hours.

The State of the Industry survey showed that 88 per cent of businesses had accessed some form of government support since the Covid restrictions were introduced almost 12 months ago.

Nine in 10 (93 per cent) businesses had accessed JobKeeper, while more than half (57 per cent) were still reliant on the financial support to hold onto staff.

The Victorian Government’s Business Support Fund was also helping 45 per cent of tourism businesses, while one in five businesses had accessed government hospitality grants. More than 20 per cent of tourism businesses received payroll tax relief.

More than 80 per cent of the businesses said the uncertainty around border closures were devastating to their business. About 60 per cent said events being cancelled across the state had also severely impacted their tourism businesses.

“What is more concerning is that, over the next three months, nearly half of our operators are expecting business activity to weaken further,” VTIC chief Felicia Mariani told the Herald Sun.

“Overall business confidence is poor, with most respondents saying they are fairly or extremely concerned about the outlook for their operations.

“All of this points to the absolute need for a targeted package of support for the tourism and events industry, which will be vital to saving our sector and the 250,000 jobs we underpin in the state – including 110,000 jobs in our regional towns and centres.”

Mariani said the end of JobKeeper on March 28 would be “a flashpoint for our sector”.

“It is critical that governments engage with industry right now to shape packages that will sustain the industry,” she said.