The Australian Tourism Export Council has made an impassioned plea to the government for immediate help to stop hospitality businesses going to the wall.
Expressing the “collective grief” of the nation’s tourism businesses, ATEC has penned an open letter addresses the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers across Australia.
“Your packages, while welcomed, sit in government coffers while our tourism businesses are dying,” it says.
“Businesses across the country are at the end, having endured two catastrophic setbacks in less than three months.
“Yesterday’s decision to close the borders marks the end for many tourism businesses, particularly the inbound tour operator businesses which are the travel intermediaries at the centre of our industry.
“We are hearing harrowing stories of businesses which have, since January, reduced their workforce from 130 to less than ten with more redundancies to come. These businesses have no hope of ‘staying open’, they can only hope to sit in hibernation and weather this storm.
“If we want them to be there at the other end, when travel returns and our country wants to welcome back international visitors, then we need to support them now.”
The plea comes as The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (Cosboa) and the United Workers Union (UWU) told Guardian Australia this week that hospitality workers and businesses won’t be able to pay the rent within weeks without urgent action to get money into their pockets.
“We don’t want to start a panic, but it’s not called a crisis for no reason,” said Cosboa chief executive Peter Strong, while UWU spokeswoman Karma Lord told the publication: “With some workers already facing eviction, we could very easily see some of our members sleeping in their cars”.
ATEC is urging the fast-track delivery of survival packages including speedy access to low-interest loans, more wage subsidies for businesses, and more support measures for those who lose their jobs.
And it wants the government to replicate overseas initiatives including the UK’s move to ‘backstop’ $600 billion in business bank loans and NZ’s provision of access to cash grants for wage subsidies within five days of application.
“This is no time to go slow,” said the letter, signed by the organisation’s national board.
“Our industry’s future depends not just on your quick fiscal response, but on your ability to distribute the support.”