Taskforce timetable uncertainty a concern for tourism businesses

Better understanding required on the implications of a pandemic second wave

The Tourism Restart Taskforce has raised its concern at its latest meeting that the Australian Government’s JobKeeper initiative may not be extended beyond September.

At last Friday’s [19 June 2020] catch up the Taskforce threw its support behind a submission made by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s to the COVID Business Liaison Unit on the need for JobKeeper to be extended until at least the end of 2020 for tourism businesses due to the impact of ongoing restrictions and those forced to close up shop during the coronavirus crisis.

Notes from the latest Taskforce meeting mention the group’s worry for remarks made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg that JobKeeper would potentially be wound up in a few months time.

“It is accepted that any extension should be targeted, but if any industry was eligible for extension it should be those businesses operating in tourism and events. The recently announced Minimum Wage Case provided third party endorsement of the strong argument that tourism and hospitality industries are the hardest hit and will take longer to recover,” the briefing notes said.

Treasurer Frydenberg has said the Federal Government would review the JobKeeper program at the end of this month.

A lack of certainty for the proposed Tourism Restart Timetable is one of the “major issues” for tourism businesses, with the group agreeing there needs to be a better understanding of the implications of a potential second wave of the pandemic that could stretch the impact of the crisis beyond two years.

Concerns were also raised at the meeting that comments had been made at the national and state government level that intrastate and interstate travel by Australians could be a substitute for international visitation, with the Taskforce saying domestic tourism will not “make up the revenue shortfall” on either the state or national level.

The group viewed the continuing closure of state borders as “inhibiting” to the progress of the trans-Tasman and Pacific travel bubbles, particularly with New Zealand.

“Although there were target dates for the lifting of state border restrictions (except WA), the NZ travel restarting should not be contingent on decisions of the state government. Any border closure is a barrier to economic growth,” the Taskforce notes state.

The Tourism Restart Taskforce agreed that the Tourism Restart Plan would need to be finalised in the next week and should be addressed with PM Morrison and other ministers, including tourism ministers, in the near future.

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