Pandemic-ravaged tourism industry needs urgent help

Pandemic-ravaged tourism industry needs urgent help

The closure of state borders since the pre-Christmas coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has hit the nation’s tourism industry hard, just when it was looking to get back on its feet after a year of bushfires and lockdowns.

The Tourism and Transport Forum, a lobby group, says the sector will lose $2.9 billion in income from people who have been forced to cancel their holiday travel plans over the summer holiday period.

At a meeting on Tuesday with new Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, the industry is expected to ask the federal government for more assistance, such as extending the JobKeeper scheme. The wage subsidy was scheduled to be tightened from January 1 and to end completely in April.

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Before COVID-19, almost one million Australians were employed in the tourism sector, a part of the economy which has suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. Tourism employment has fallen by 15 per cent compared to 5 per cent in the wider economy. The industry deserves support.

States outside NSW must bear some of the responsibility. They have made the blow harder than it needed to be by arbitrary border closure policies. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has rightly accepted quarantine measures are necessary for residents of the northern beaches, but those areas are now in lockdown. She has questioned why states have shut their borders to all NSW residents even though there have only been a handful of cases in the rest of the state.

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