A delegation consisting of CATO managing director Brett Jardine, Chairman Dennis Bunnik, and board member Brad McDonnell was in Canberra on Tuesday to meet Dan Tehan as part of the collective ongoing lobbying effort to ‘Save the travel industry’ and secure government financial support post-JobKeeper.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) delegation met with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, to explain the complex nature of the travel industry and the important role of the land supply sector within the travel ecosystem.
CATO said that Minister Tehan was engaged and interested in learning more about the sector and the impacts of COVID-19 on the industry.
“We were able to explain the importance of protecting highly skilled jobs and their key to ensuring continued business operations, enabling the redemption of travel credits for consumers and allowing Australians to travel safely once borders reopen,” said Jardine.
Minister Tehan heard about CATO’s long-standing relationship with DFAT and members’ role in helping to repatriate Australians during the height of the COVID-19 crisis last year.
CATO explained the impact of COVID-19 on the financial and emotional wellbeing of members and the broader travel industry.
“Whilst we understand the need to close borders, the travel industry has been the sacrificial lamb that has enabled our communities to remain largely COVID free and the wider economy to recover. Whilst the government continues to restrict our trade, it is vital that it provides support to enable us to survive.” Said Jardine.
“This support should include continued wage subsidies, grants to help cover overheads and Government-backed loans (with delayed repayments) to bridge the cash-flow gap between now and when international travel actually recommences,” He continued.
CATO Board members Brad McDonnell and Dennis Bunnik were able to provide details of the direct impact of COVID-19 and government border policies on their respective business, Entire Travel Group and Bunnik Tours. In response, Minister Tehan immediately arranged for the CATO delegation to meet with the Senior Economic Advisor for Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.
During this meeting, and a further meeting with Austrade, CATO was able to delve into details on the support the industry will require post-JobKeeper.
“The Government has repeatedly stated that JobKeeper will finish as scheduled at the end of March. Whilst they understand the need for further travel industry support, they are yet to finalise any assistance packages. As such, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan encouraged CATO and the entire travel industry to keep campaigning their local members on the impact of COVID-19 and the ramifications of ending of JobKeeper to the tourism industry.”
Brett Jardine, CATO managing director
The travel industry is showing a united front in Canberra this week with AFTA CEO Darren Rudd also in the capital to meet with political leaders.
CATO Chair Dennis Bunnik briefed Rudd on the outcomes of the meetings with the two organisations working together to ensure their messaging is aligned.
What can you do?
Keep up the fight and continue to push out the ‘Save the travel industry’ message within your local community and beyond. Talk to your local MP’s, media and anyone else who will listen.
All of us can play our part.
Main pic: L to R – Brad McDonnell CEO Entire Travel Group & CATO Board Member; Dennis Bunnik CATO Chair; Minister Tehan; Brett Jardine CATO MD
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