Time to fully open international border

With vaccination rates above 90 per cent, now is the right time to open our international border so our hard-hit tourism sector can get back on its feet.

In its pre-budget submission released today, Australian Chamber – Tourism is calling on National Cabinet and the Federal Government to get the policy settings right so the sector can make a strong recovery and bounce back.

A key priority is re-opening the international border, and ensuring the settings are right to maximise the opportunity for Australia to attract visitors as international markets compete for the tourist dollar.

“The tourism sector was one of the first to feel the huge costs of COVID-19. The international border has been closed to tourist markets for 678 days and counting,” John Hart, Executive Chair of Australian Chamber – Tourism said.

“As a matter of priority, the Federal Government must expedite the reopening of our international borders to all fully vaccinated travellers, a move that will provide the tourism industry with confidence to resume their operations.”

“We must support and rebuild tourism businesses so that Australia can continue to benefit from the significant contribution our tourism sector makes to local jobs and communities.”

“Initiatives such as refunding tourist visa fees and removing passenger movement charges will make Australia a more cost competitive tourist destination and drive much-needed international demand.”

“Without a commitment to fully open the international border, it is only fair that businesses receive support to prevent them going under through no fault of their own.”

“It is essential that targeted support measures are provided to businesses that continue to be negatively affected by international border restrictions, including travel agents, the inbound tour operators sector, the cruise industry and business events.”

“Pent-up domestic and international demand means that consumers are keen to travel and support the tourism sector. However, government support in implementing targeted financial assistance and other key policy initiatives outlined in our pre-budget submission will be crucial to assist in the recovery for this hard-hit industry.”

Read Australian Chamber – Tourism’s pre-budget submission here.

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER-TOURISM PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION 2022-23 RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommendation 1: Extend financial support to tourism businesses still heavily impacted by government restrictions arising from COVID-19

Recommendation 2: Remove the passenger movement charge to improve Australia’s overall price competitiveness and attract visitors in the post COVID-19 travel environment.

Recommendation 3: Remove the Fringe Benefit Tax on entertainment and travel for a limited period of up to two years and reinstate deductibility for business expenditure on entertainment and travel.

Recommendation 4: Increase Tourism Australia funding to $240 million per annum with an ongoing domestic role and an increase to the business events bid fund.

Recommendation 5: Extend the Export Market Development Grants Scheme (EMDG) to businesses that were previously deemed ineligible due to reaching the maximum eight grant limit as well as specifically for tourism businesses that will need to rebuild trust and confidence in key as well as new and emerging markets.

Recommendation 6: Commence an improvement of the Tourist Refund Scheme system.

Recommendation 7:

  • Monitor and if needed regulate insurance classes to ensure certainty and affordability for the tourism sector
  • Consider other alternative risk mitigations such as advance deposit schemes that underwrite the tourism and events supply chains
  • Introduce a national, Commonwealth led event reinsurance scheme, achieved in partnership with state and territory governments, to cover for government-enforced cancellations and postponements resulting from COVID-19 restrictions
  • Adequately fund a Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF) to cover risk for the leisure industries that include parts of the tourism sector

Recommendation 8: Retool passenger facilitation systems to enable contactless movement through Australian ports.

Recommendation 9: Increase funding for Tourism Research Australia.

Recommendation 10: Develop Australian product.

  • Reinstate a coordination role around domestic promotion and product development within Tourism Australia to ensure development aligns with strategy.
  • Continue the prioritisation of funding for tourism infrastructure projects under all existing hard and soft infrastructure grants.
  • Develop a Visitor Economy Development Fund which includes capacity building as eligible projects.
  • Integrate initiatives that build capacity in long term tourism strategies.

Recommendation 11: Reinstate the Tourism Labour Force Survey.

Recommendation 12: Allocate $10 million to develop a promotional campaign to encourage careers pathways in tourism and hospitality.

Recommendation 13: Accelerate visa reform, including rapid rollout of streamlined and online visa processes.

Recommendation 14: Implement additional measures to address skills and labour shortages

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