May 11, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

With Australia’s international border now not expected to open until at least 2022, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has renewed its plea for clarity on continued Government support to help internationally focussed tourism operators plan their pandemic recovery strategies.

“While many tourism businesses are surviving with domestic visitation, there is a group of uniquely exposed businesses who receive little or no benefit from the current domestic travel stimulus programs,” said ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley.

“While we welcome these stimulus initiatives which are helping drive domestic travel, there are many tourism products which domestic travellers are simply not booking, like day tours and attractions. Plus we have the inbound tour operator cohort who are unable to pivot their business model to benefit from domestic travel support programs.

“While these businesses have welcomed the support packages offered by the Government so far, they are crying out to know if this support will continue until international borders reopen.

“Without this certainty, they have no confidence to invest in their future or begin planning for our industry’s restart, let alone continuing to hold on to the rubble of their businesses.

Shelley flagged Inbound Tour Operators (ITOs) as particularly hard hit by the international border closure.

“They continue to manage strong forward booking enquires for future international visitors despite not having any revenue.

“They are not asking for much, just the clarity of knowing if they will receive ongoing support to sustain operations until borders open.  This knowledge will mean they can make the hard decisions about their ability to survive or if they should simply wind up their operations.

“We view this cohort of ITOs as critical strategic assets for Australia’s inbound tourism industry and without certainty in the form of ongoing Government support, we will see more of these businesses close their doors, significantly eroding Australia’s competitiveness as a global tourism destination.

“ATEC is anxiously awaiting the details of the federal budget which will be a clear indicator of the Government’s understanding of tourism’s plight.”