International border delay reiterates support still needed for business

The two-week delay in reopening the international border has reinforced the need for the Federal Government to provide assistance for businesses reliant on the international visitor market that have been smashed in the past two years.

Yesterday, Australia’s leading tourism and business events bodies who are part of Australian Chamber – Tourism as well as the Tourism Restart Taskforce met to discuss the current state of the tourism industry and its impact on the restart and recovery of the sector.

“Most businesses that are primarily reliant on international tourist arrivals have recorded more than a 60 per cent fall in turnover. They immediately need access to financial support, and at any time when the international borders are closed,” Dr. Jeremy Johnson, Chair of the Tourism Restart Taskforce said.

“When there are lockdowns, the impact on business is devastating and obvious to the whole community, and governments have stepped up to provide business support and supplement the incomes of impacted employees. It is crucial that this support continues for businesses reliant on the international visitor market.

“Although it is understandable that the Government has delayed the reopening of the international border while it awaits more health advice on the Omicron variant, the delay has again demonstrated the extreme unpredictability that businesses who are reliant on inbound visitors have faced in the almost two years since the borders were slammed shut.

“This decision of the federal government impacts businesses who are left devoid of customers and revenue through no fault of their own. These businesses need our support now so that they can bounce back and continue to contribute to Australia’s global competitive advantage in tourism, business events and major events in the future.

The economic benefits of international tourism to Australia are considerable, contributing $45 billion in revenue each year prior to the pandemic. With 44 cents of every tourism dollar being spent in regional destinations, the industry brings key tourism dollars to these communities.

“Financial support also needs to be coupled with an aspirational vision for the future of the tourism industry,” John Hart, Executive Chair of Australian Chamber-Tourism added.

“The Federal Government’s THRIVE 2030 Strategy for recovery and sustainable growth of the visitor economy released last week would benefit from a greater focus on the commercial aspects of the industry, while aspirational targets could give us a competitive edge in the international tourism market.

“Australian Chamber – Tourism will be engaging with the Government to advocate that the strategy reflects an understanding of how the industry operates and includes short, medium and long-term targets to ensure Australia returns as premier destination for international tourists.

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