SYDNEY — Australia risks being the “lost kingdom” of the South Pacific, as per the tourism bosses who are angry about a lack of support in the federal budget.
The 2021/22 plan leaves the tourism sector high and dry with nowhere to go until at least the middle of next year, Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said.
The industry wants a clear calendar for when borders will open, she informed reporters after May 11 budget.
“No timetable condemns us virtually to being the lost kingdom of the South Pacific when the rest of the world is opening up,” she said.
“We will see more job losses and we will see many many business failures.”
International borders are closed and domestic travel remains in jeopardy amid Covid-19 leaks from hotel quarantine and people fearing domestic borders snapping shut.
Australian Chamber-Tourism chair John Hart said budget funding for zoos and aquariums, consumer travel and Tourism Australia will fall short without a plan to open Australia.
In its statement, the chamber said that tourism will fall short without reopening borders.
“With the traditional seasonal workforce of working holidaymakers and international students unavailable to fill the workforce gap, the sector desperately needs a workforce pipeline to enable recovery and eventually international reopening,” said Hart. “The skills package announced tonight is welcome and will create opportunities for those looking to retrain and recruit skilled staff in the tourism, hospitality and accommodation sector.”
Tourism and Transport Forum of Australia tweeted “There are businesses that are internationally exposed with about 70 to 80,000 employees. ‘While we don’t have international visitors, we’re going to need extra help.”
“It is vital for the government to begin a staged opening as soon as possible, given the stimulus measures (in the budget),” he said.
“Businesses need certainty and this is especially important after state border lockdowns battered the sector in 2020/21.”
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the Morrison government’s AU$ 1.2 billion ($937.2 million) tourism package would help support operators and workers.
Half-price airfares have given a much-needed boost to 15 domestic tourism areas across Australia, while also supporting the aviation sector, he said.
The AU$ 94.6 million ($73.8 million) zoos and aquariums program will be extended by six months to maintain animal populations where tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.
“We’ll be lucky to have a tourism industry to welcome international tourists back into the country,” Osmond said.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)