Dear Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers across Australia,
We are writing to you to express the collective grief currently experienced by Australia’s tourism industry in light of both the January bushfires and subsequent measures enacted to help halt the spread of COVID-19.
Your packages, while welcomed, sit in government coffers while our tourism businesses are dying.
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.
Let’s be clear, no distributors means no gateway for our international visitors. These visitors are worth over $45bn to our national economy and support more than 600,000 jobs - many in regional communities.
We are urging governments to ‘fast-track’ the delivery of their survival packages and provide access to low-interest loans for business, further wage subsidies and support measures for workers who lose their jobs.
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 5 days of application.
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.
The National Board
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)