Direct money is an option to help tourism businesses survive the end of JobKeeper

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“In late December and early January, restrictions on northern beaches and the closure of the New South Wales and Queensland borders really upset existing bookings,” he said.

“In some cases, they’ve gone from 100% to zero. There are a couple of gears in the tourism industry right now … not all of them got the bounce they expected [over Christmas/New Year’s]. ”

ATIC members have reported a 35% drop in carry-over bookings, which are now at such a low level that many companies are saying they won’t be able to stay open without assistance.

Up to a third of operators say they will close their doors or lay off staff once JobKeeper is finished. Among Victorian businesses, 57% of those polled said they were still on JobKeeper, and around half said they would cut staff “significantly” after March 28.

Labor and workplace agreements require a minimum of four weeks’ notice and companies must cover termination provisions. Operational and manpower decisions for tourism businesses are now taken on the assumption that there is no new aid.

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The federal government privately believes that JobKeeper has become a crutch for states, which can close their borders knowing that there will be financial support for local businesses. He believes that by removing the “safety net” of wage subsidies, states will be forced to take a closer look at the economic fallout from future sudden shutdowns.

The federal government’s COVID-19 Relief and Stimulus Fund has already provided $ 1 billion in additional funding for industries such as tourism, including grants and fee waivers.

Mr Westaway said a new round of aid could have a format similar to previous single payment programs to businesses and administered by the tax office to businesses whose revenues have proven to be a substantial drop in their revenues.

“For many tourism businesses, advance booking levels are insufficient to maintain basic jobs and operations when JobKeeper ends in March,” ATIC backgrounders say. “It is now essential to provide additional support. ”

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed that the airline is discussing with the federal government “continued support for the aviation industry and for our staff, especially those related to our international operations which are likely to be without work for a while “.

“These conversations are ongoing and it is fair to say that the particular challenges facing the industry are well understood,” he said.

“End of December and beginning of January… really upset the forward and existing bookings.”

Simon Westaway, Executive Director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council

Virgin Australia has raised its voice for continued government support, joining the labor movement last month to call for an ‘AviationKeeper’ grant until flight operations return to normal.

A Virgin spokesperson said on Friday the company was still in talks with the government over support for the sector and “the importance of aviation in the country’s broader economic recovery.”

The government spending review committee spent Friday discussing key elements of another major program, JobSeeker, which will return to its pre-virus level of $ 40 per day when the COVID supplement ends on March 31. .

Bunnings was one of the outlets to benefit from the international travel ban, with customers spending their savings on home renovations. Credit:Wayne taylor

A decision to lift the basic payment was made late last year, but the debate within government is now about its level, whether it should be integrated with other welfare payments, and whether stricter restrictions on access to JobSeeker should be imposed.

While the government has raised concerns about the state borders being closed, parts of the domestic tourism industry and economy are benefiting from the effective ban on Australians leaving the country.

In December 2019, 226,000 net people left Australia for short vacations according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In December of last year, 6,980 net people left the country.

Economists estimate that the ban on international borders has become a stimulus of $ 25 billion, with money that would have been spent abroad now going to national bank accounts or to local retailers.

Spending on household and gardening items alone increased by more than 10% in 2020.

Half-year results from Coles, the owner of Bunnings Wesfarmers and BCF’s parent company, Super Retail Group, show significant increases in spending due in part to travel restrictions.

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Coles said customers were spending more time working, studying and staying at home, supporting demand in certain product categories. Home and hardware giant Bunnings’s first-half revenue jumped 24.4% to over $ 9 billion.

“Travel restrictions and customers spending more time on home projects continued to support sales growth,” said Wesfarmers Managing Director Rob Scott.

Total BCF Yachting, Camping and Fishing Store sales increased 50.9% to $ 427.7 million “as COVID-19 restrictions eased and domestic tourism and activities leisure activities increased ”, with Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales recording the strongest performances.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that a deployment of the coronavirus vaccine “will change the way things are done here in Australia.”

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that over time, as vaccination unfolds around the world and here in Australia, you should rightly expect things to change in the how we deal with the virus, ”he said.

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