May 12, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Last night’s federal budget yielded no additional support of note for the business events or tourism industries, with budget communications simply flagging the $1.2 billion package announced in March as support for both sectors.

Both the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) have expressed their dismay in yesterday’s announcements – or lack thereof.

ATIC Executive Director Simon Westaway said the Budget outlook for Australia’s international border, beyond New Zealand, only ‘gradually opening’ through 2022, does not give any confidence to the sector.

“Tourism remains one of the most affected sectors in Australia’s impressive economic recovery. It remains impacted by consumer concerns and disruptions to interstate travel due to regulatory restrictions,” said Westaway.

“The Federal Budget outlook indicates no foreseeable international market recovery for Australia’s visitor economy, and this sadly spells further tourism business and job losses.”

On a positive note, Westaway gave ATIC’s approval for funding for Tourism Australia and the vaccine rollout in the budget.

A statement from ATEC said the budget “fails to deliver clarity for Australia’s flailing export tourism industry with continued uncertainty leaving hundreds of crucial supply chain businesses unsure if they will have ongoing support beyond July 1.”

“If we lose critical supply chain businesses like inbound tour operators we lose Australia’s ability to re-engage with the international travel marketplace, leaving us to be overtaken by more competitive and efficient destinations,” said ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley.

“Rather than bounding out of the starting blocks once international borders reopen, our tourism industry will limp along, struggling to bring our lucrative inbound visitors back to our shores.

“Along with losing our inbound tour operators – the businesses that sell Australian tourism product across the world – we will be waving goodbye our domestic tourism market as Aussies head back overseas to spend their travel dollars.”

According to federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the budget is working on “quite a conservative, cautious assumption that international borders will gradually reopen from the middle of next year”. The comment came up in an interview with ABC’s Leigh Sales following last night’s budget announcements.

Top image: Wollongong, NSW | Credit: Tourism Australia