PM urges Aussie trade to “hang in there”

Scott Morrison says mothballing businesses may be necessary for an indefinite period

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the local tourism industry should be prepared for a “rush” of tourists to our shores following the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to several thousand tourism, travel and hospitality executives – including LATTE – on a webinar, the Prime Minister said it will be the “Aussie spirit” that will see struggling businesses bounce back.

A guest speaker of Tourism Australia’s webinar on Friday [3 April 2020] afternoon, immediately following a press conference, PM Morrison spoke for several minutes about the current COVID-19 adversity gripping the nation and impacting the sector.

“This is a crisis that the tourism industry could never have imagined and it is causing, I know, incredible hardship all around the country,” he said.

Morrison acknowledged the passion of members across the tourism, travel and hospitality sector for “what you do every day… because you love it”. His comments come from first-hand experience: he was the Managing Director at Tourism Australia for two years, from 2004 to 2006.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a Tourism Australia webinar

“What this virus has taken from you in these weeks past and [those] who were in bushfire affected areas before that, it has just been the worst of times.”

He said it was crucial for the government to do everything possible to “keep the wheels of our economy turning”, outlining the importance of the safety net program and JobKeeper payments already rolled out.

“For most tourism and travel and hospitality businesses, this will be very hard and the idea that you’ll be able to keep businesses running when there are no visitors coming [will obviously] be incredibly difficult, and so effectively mothballing what you are doing for a period of time, but then thinking hard about what how you can emerge on the other side” would be the best course of action, said Morrison.

“We want to be able to help people to do that. To keep their teams together wherever we possibly can so when we do emerge on the other side, our tourism and hospitality and travel sector will be one of the big resurgent industries,” Morrison said.

Morrison commended Tourism Australia on its newly launched “With love from Aus” message (see below).

“People are going to want to rush back here after going through the hell of the last however long it will have been by the time we’ve gone through to the other side and Australia is going to be high on their list, I reckon, so we’ve got to prepare ourselves for that.”

Speaking from his office in Canberra, Morrison said the measures that were adopted in March, including the travel ban and 14-day self isolation for overseas travellers, has worked to stifle the growth of COVID-19 here.

“We should have double the number of cases that we have now. You know better than most because you have so many connections with people from all around the world [and know] what they are going through in highly developed economies in Europe and the United States and other parts of Asia.

“And here we are in Australia, holding our own for now, but under a lot of pressure and we’re going to continue to bare up to that pressure and use that great Aussie spirit to be able to get us through to the other side.”

Morrison concluded his webinar appearance by telling his audience he is focused on having the sector return to its glory days of not long ago.

“I want you to get that business back and I want you to get the visitors back, and as soon as we can do that I can assure you we will be going there. So thanks for hanging in there.”

Tourism Australia will hold future webinars focused on mental health, along with offering expert advice on how to best use social media through times of crisis, as well as the state of play in other markets around the world.

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