The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is thrilled by today’s official announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the JobKeeper Program will be extended for another six months, to March 2021. This Federal initiative has made all the difference in keeping the tourism, hospitality and events sectors alive, and its continuation provides a much-needed support mechanism for an industry that’s on its knees.
VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said, “JobKeeper has been the lifeline that every business across Australia has pointed to that’s allowed them to navigate the COVID-19 crisis over the last three months. Today’s announcement of the continuation of JobKeeper 2.0 in a tiered structure to end in March 2021, is the support that our industry has been praying for.”
ABS figures released last week showed that jobs in the Accommodation and Food Services sector had declined at a rate four times that of the all industries average, with the Arts and Recreation sector affected by levels three times greater than the industry average.
“Every operator that we’ve engaged with over the past many months has clearly noted this is the single most critical support program that’s allowed them to hang on to their businesses in the midst of this crisis,” Ms Mariani said.
With the closure of state borders due to the rising infection rates in Victoria and NSW, the hopes that domestic visitation will help to replace the loss of international visitor spend is appearing highly unlikely. Also, international borders remaining closed until early to mid-2021 will mean that this critical component of our visitor spend across Australia remains out of the question for many months to come.
Pre-COVID-19, Victoria saw over three million visitors from overseas markets who injected $8.8 billion into the state’s economy. Tourism, hospitality and the events industry will struggle to see anywhere near full reactivation for a very long time, with best case scenarios predicting three years until recovery; and worst case projections as long as five years – and that only brings the sector back to performance levels at the end of 2019.
“While the extension of JobKeeper will mean the difference between closure or continued operations, it’s imperative that the Federal Government also reinforces the Rental Mandatory Code of Conduct and the various bank relief measures by extending these programs to March 2021 as well.
“VTIC will continue to advocate on these key issues to ensure that tourism businesses are supported with the programs and mechanisms they need to sustain their survival through this global pandemic.
“The Visitor Economy in Victoria has been worth $32.5 billion to the state’s economy. We have employed over 230,000 people directly and indirectly in our industry, with 90,000 of those jobs being in our regional areas.
“This is a critical sector to the vibrancy and economic fortunes of Victoria. Every single lever that can be pulled to sustain this industry must be pulled at both Federal and State Government levels to ensure it has the ability reanimate to its full potential,” Ms Mariani said.