The Morrison Government has dragged its heels on delivering much-needed support for Australia’s tourism industry.
Today’s announcement of belated support for travel agents will be welcomed by operators who have been battling to survive since international borders were closed in March.
But much of their pain could have been avoided if the Government had done what was needed much sooner.
Labor has been calling on the Government to deliver a clear, industry-wide plan for survival and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
Since March, Opposition MPs and Senators have been contacted by hundreds of travel agents and have participated in numerous virtual and one-on-one meetings with business operators in the sector.
In addition, we have made multiple representations to the Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, since April highlighting their plight and encouraging the Government to take action to support this sector.
What Australia’s tourism industry has needed throughout this crisis is leadership.
But the Morrison Government has instead offered only ad hoc announcements for certain sectors of the industry, in most cases long after prompt action could have prevented job losses and businesses closures.
It is well past time that travel agents received some support.
But there are other sectors of the industry that are still doing it tough.
Industry-wide, tourism has lost billions of dollars and shed more than 136,000 jobs while the Morrison Government waited for its predicted “snap back”.
Tourism is an extremely important contributor to Australia’s economy and a major job provider.
COVID-19 and its impact are not the fault of the 300,000 odd small business owners in the tourism sector, people who have worked hard to build their businesses and offer amazing experiences to both domestic and international visitors.
Australian tourism operators and workers deserve a Government that doesn’t take their livelihood for granted until it’s almost too late.