The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement of a $66 billion economic recovery package with a focus on supporting small businesses to stay in business and keep people employed across Australia.
Key elements of the package include unsecured loans of up to $250,000 guaranteed by the Commonwealth for SMEs for terms of up to three years with no repayments due in the first six months. The NFP and SME sectors with annual turnover of up to $50 million will also be eligible for tax-free cash payments between $20,000 and $100,000.
Importantly, sole traders and casuals will be able to access the new Job Seeker Allowance of an additional $550 a fortnight to supplement lost income either through being stood down or from decreases in their business income. These groups will also have access to superannuation payments of $10,000 this year and a further $10,000 next year if they have seen their income or hours reduced by 20% or more.
VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani commended the Morrison Government on this much needed response to a crisis that has decimated the tourism, hospitality, accommodation and events sectors across the country.
“Today’s $66 billion package is exactly what the tourism and events sector has been waiting for and is now more crucial than ever given his announcement today that National Cabinet will move this evening to cancel all non-essential travel, virtually calling our industry to a halt.
“The economic measures included will put much needed cash into the empty pockets of tourism businesses across Victoria and will help us to retain core staff and give these businesses a much-needed lifeline to survival.
“Most critical in this package is the access to unsecured Commonwealth guaranteed loans up to $250,000 with no repayments in the first six months. VTIC has advocated strongly for concessional loans to be made part of any federal recovery package and it’s pleasing to see this element as a cornerstone of the announcement. We urge our industry to make contact with their banks as soon as possible to explore immediate access to this opportunity,” she said.
Since 27 January this year, when the Chinese Government banned overseas group travel from their country, Australia’s tourism sector has been systematically shutdown as borders have closed around the world and airlines have ceased operating.
“While many businesses are hurting from the regulations now in place that hinder their operations, no industry has been as quickly and as deeply decimated as the tourism, travel, accommodation, hospitality and events sectors and today’s announcement by the PM essentially shuts our industry down across the country.
“Victorian tourism operations have been crushed over the past six weeks and we are already seeing the closure of anchor regional products like Sovereign Hill, that announced its indefinite closure on Friday. We are also seeing a rationalisation of accessibility to venues like Phillip Island Nature Parks and park sites managed by Parks Victoria as they grapple with the 500-maximum capacity of new social distancing regulations for outdoor gatherings.
“VTIC is calling on the Federal Government to work closely with the Victorian State Government in identifying these anchor products and experiences in regional areas that are simply “too big to fail” as these attractions will be critical to do the heavy lifting as we emerge from this crisis and step into the recovery phase of rebuilding our industry.
“The tourism sector will undoubtedly suffer business losses as we weather the worst of this crisis. It will be imperative that we keep an eye to the future and ensure those businesses that play a crucial role in driving visitation, creating a halo effect for broader regional visitation, are still operating on the other end of this desperate situation.
“VTIC is currently working with our Regional Tourism Board partners to identify these critical assets and we look forward to working with state and federal government to ensure that these anchor products find some way to survive to help us build a bridge recovery on the other side,” Ms Mariani concluded.