WA tourism grants to help operators through ‘very tough times’

West Australian tourism businesses hit hard by east coast lockdowns and interstate and international travel restrictions will be able to apply for grants of $2,000, $5,000 and $10,000.

It is anticipated about 3,500 businesses will be eligible for the grants which are part of a new joint $16.8 million Commonwealth-State program.

“We have great sympathy for the WA tourism businesses being directly impacted by the terrible situation in the Eastern States,” said Premier Mark McGowan.

“The continued acceleration of community spread in many parts of the country, particularly New South Wales, is now so severe it is having impacts on some WA tourism businesses.

“Western Australia’s work to keep Covid-19 largely out of the community has kept the State safe and open – enabling our tourism sector to operate in a way much of the world has been unable to over the past 18 months and fuelling an intrastate visitation boom.

“The Tourism Assistance Grants will provide targeted support to the Western Australian businesses which have become innocent victims of community spread over east, through no fault of their own.”

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said it was a “very tough time” for the Western Australian tourism industry.

“This welcome support from the Australian and West Australian governments will provide financial support to help ensure the industry is ready to rebound as our nation eases restrictions as our vaccination rates hit key milestones,” he said.

Tourism Council WA welcomed the joint grant funding saying it was great to see bipartisan support.

“Many tourism businesses are struggling due to the international and interstate borders and it is great to see Federal and State Governments working together to support the worst affected businesses,” Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said.

“Tourism businesses across WA have seen a collapse of the interstate market due to the east coast lockdowns. Businesses face reducing staff and capacity, and 31 per cent of businesses reported they will run out of cash in six months.

“The impact of the current downturn has affected all sectors of the tourism industry, but it is most keenly felt by tour operators and Perth accommodation.”

However, the tourism industry warned that further support would be needed if lockdowns and border closures continued.

“Further grants or income support will be needed if lockdowns and border closures stretch on for months,” Hall said.

“Tourism businesses will need support until vaccination rates are high enough to allow for domestic travel across Australia by vaccinated residents under the National Plan.”