Not everyone is happy with Australia’s $1 billion rescue package for the tourism industry.

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Can you give a brief overview of what’s actually happened here, and who does it benefit? 

The federal government will halve the price of airline tickets as part of a $1.2 billion package aimed at getting more Australians to spend big on domestic holidays. The package is to assist the tourism sector during 2021, which includes subsidies for domestic air travel and money for Qantas and Virgin

The move is designed to prop up parts of the ailing tourism and aviation sectors, which have been hit hard by the pandemic and which fear the end of the JobKeeper program later this month. Between April and July, a 50 per cent discount on tickets will be offered for flights to and from 13 regions that normally rely heavily on international visitors.

The destinations include the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, the Sunshine Coast, the region which includes Uluru & Alice Springs; Launceston, Devonport, Burnie, Broome, Avalon (Vic) and Kangaroo Island. Routes and the number of tickets will reflect demand and are still being discussed with airlines, but approx. 46,000 half-price fares will be offered weekly mostly with Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar.

Who was not happy with the announcements?

Airlines have been hit hard by COVID-19, so, deserved such support, but some airports missed out; rail & bus operators also miss out; so does within-state tourism by car or, say fly from BNE to FNQ; hotel and tourism operators. many SMEs missing out, have less lobbying power than big airlines. Many of the initial destinations included in the program are in marginal or winnable electorates for the government, e.g., 2 marginal seats in n. Tas, but no support flying to Hobart!

How could this have been improved?

It could be improved, by making it more generally available, not only to ‘ers, but also ‘ees. This package may not help workers. This package subsidises employers. Some of them do the right thing, with such subsidies, but others don’t use such taxpayer’s money to support their employees. Some businesses have used such subsidies to fund executive bonuses or to pay dividends to their shareholders, rather than to support workers who have been doing it tough, esp. in this pandemic.

What should happen now? 

Consider an extension of job keeper. Consider more support for events, the arts, hospitality and universities, sectors that have all lost 000s of jobs. Consider more investment in training & skills. This should be seen as an investment, not as a cost. Book your subsidised trip!

 

Period11 Mar 2021

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Keywords

  • aviation
  • Tourism
  • Qantas
  • Virgin Australia
  • holidays
  • COVID-19
  • Jetstar
  • rail
  • bus operators
  • SMEs
  • airlines
  • workers
  • employers
  • employees
  • executive bonuses
  • shareholders
  • JobKeeper
  • universities
  • training
  • skills