Australia risks being the “lost kingdom” of the South Pacific, according to tourism bosses who are outraged about a lack of support in the federal budget.
The recently announced federal budget is painting a picture of an Australia closed off from the rest of the world, even once a full vaccination program is in place.
Aside from the issues of repatriation flight caps and separated families, Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive, Margy Osmond said the 2021/22 plan leaves the tourism sector high and dry with nowhere to go until at least the middle of next year.
The industry wants a clear calendar for when borders will open, she told reporters after Tuesday’s budget.
“No timetable condemns us virtually to being the lost kingdom of the South Pacific when the rest of the world is opening up.”
“We will see more job losses and we will see many many business failures,” she said.
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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.
“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 $1.2 billion 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.
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The $94.6 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,” Ms Osmond said.
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