‘Tourism businesses are dying’ as government launches second stimulus package

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to confirm Australia's slide into recession.

The federal government has launched a second wave of economic stimulus packages in an effort to halt the devastation caused by coronavirus on businesses across Australia.

The Reserve Bank of Australian has slashed it its rates to 0.25 per cent and rolled out a new money-printing program for the first time in Australia’s history.

The central bank will implement a $90 billion funding facility to try to soften the economic fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has engulfed the world.

The new measures include providing a three-year funding facility for cheap loans in an effort to support businesses that have seen cash flows dry up almost overnight.

Up to $15 billion would be used to allow smaller lenders to continue to support Australian consumers and small businesses.

Banks have also announced they will freeze small business customers’ loan repayments for up to six months.

“This is a multi-billion-dollar shot in the arm for small businesses when they need it the most,” said Australian Banking Association boss Anna Blight.

The announcements come as the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has written an open letter to all levels of government highlighting “the collective grief currently experienced by Australia’s tourism industry” in the wake of the summer bushfires and ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Your packages, while welcomed, sit in government coffers while our tourism businesses are dying,” ATEC said.

“Businesses across the country are at the end, having endured two catastrophic setbacks in less than three months. Yesterday’s decision to close the borders marks the end for many tourism businesses, particularly the Inbound Tour Operator businesses which are the travel intermediaries at the centre of our industry.

“We are hearing harrowing stories of businesses which have, since January, reduced their workforce from 130 to less than 10 with more redundancies to come. These businesses have no hope of ‘staying open’, they can only hope to sit in hibernation and weather this storm.

“If we want them to be there at the other end, when travel returns and our country wants to welcome back international visitors, then we need to support them now. You need to get the money flowing and send a lifeline to the travel distributors who play a major role in our export tourism ecosystem.”

ATEC called on the government to “fast-track” the delivery of their stimulus packages, by providing access to low-interest loans for business, further wage subsidies and support measures for workers who are laid off.

“We encourage the Federal Government to replicate processes implemented by other countries including the UK Government’s emergency initiative to ‘backstop’ more than $600 billion in bank loans to stop businesses going bust, or the example set by NZ which has provided access to cash grants for wage subsidies within five days of application,” ATEC said.

“This is no time to go slow. Our industry’s future depends not just on your quick fiscal response, but on your ability to distribute the support.”