A leading tourism industry body has welcomed suggestions that the Australian Government might support the tourism and hospitality industries financially, beyond the six-month JobKeeper end-date, using funds that were originally allocated to the JobKeeper program.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken responsibility for a $60 billion JobKeeper miscalculation that revised the program from costing $130 billion to $60 billion.

Tasmanian Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein said JobKeeper was an “excellent program” and he wanted it expanded to offer targeted support to the tourism and hospitality industries beyond the six-month end date.

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) welcomed suggestions the tourism industry might benefit from the unallocated JobKeeper funds.

“Export tourism has been the hardest hit export industry this year,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley pointed out.

“From the bushfires which saw our peak tourist season disappear to the fact we will not see any international visitors before next Summer, 2020 will be remembered as the year from hell for export tourism.

“Tourism is a huge part of Australia’s economy and export tourism has been one of our strongest growth industries over the past decade, delivering more than $45 billion in visitor spending last year – it’s an industry we can’t afford to lose.

“For the thousands of export tourism businesses who are ATEC members, and the entire tourism industry, the suggestion of additional support provides those businesses greater confidence to keep going and ride out their toughest year.”

Shelley said while domestic tourism would see some recovery in coming months, the inbound industry would continue to have little income well into next year, and even then at a greatly diminished level.

“This morning ATEC met with over 40 of the country’s major inbound tour operators (ITOs), the businesses which provide travel services to a huge proportion of our 9 million international visitors each year,” he said yesterday.

“These businesses feed international visitors into our regions and help support the one million people employed in the tourism industry across Australia, but this year their contribution to our economy will be negligible.

“These businesses are a major part of our industry’s supply chain and, come September, will have no income and no way to continue to employ the small number of people they have kept on the books.

“These businesses provide a vital role in the tourism supply chain and without these them, we will face huge obstacles in getting back into the international visitor marketplace and regaining the ground we have lost, so any measures that support their continued existence will be a huge benefit to tourism businesses across the country.

“Since January ATEC has been talking to the Government to ensure they understand the plight of tourism businesses across Australia.  We are pleased to see the Government has once again heard the needs of the tourism industry and is looking to act and help ensure the long-term viability of our $45 billion export tourism industry.”

Edited by Peter Needham