The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is calling on the federal government to provide a grants-based program to preserve the skills in Australia’s inbound tourism industry, which will ‘not survive’ if international borders remain shut.

In a press release distributed yesterday, ATEC said that Australia’s 100 inbound tour operators (ITO), who curate and deliver experiences for tourists, rely heavily on high spending international visitors. Without targeted financial support, the supply chain risks incurring structural damage, which will result in Australia losing its competitive edge.

“International travellers become aware of product offerings in Australia, book and ultimately experience the destination as a result of the global sales network provided by the inbound tour operator,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“As the borders reopen people will be looking for assurances that their travel will be ‘COVID-safe’, have flexible booking and cancellations terms and returnable deposits if circumstances change – ITOs will provide a vital role in providing these assurances.

Mr Shelley said that targeted support for Australia’s ITOs will deliver a significant return on investment through the export revenue generated as well as the jobs saved directly within ITO businesses.