Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) National CEO Michael Johnson is pleased that the government listened to industry concerns with the Federal Budget focus on jobs and regional tourism was a welcome boost for the struggling accommodation sector.
He pointed out that measures like the direct wage subsidy scheme, JobMaker Hiring Credit and instant asset write-off would have an immediate boost for large, medium and small accommodation venues.
He said: “We welcome the emphasis on jobs in last night’s Budget and accommodation hotels are ready to play our role in getting more Australians back to work.
“Jobs in our hard-hit sector can be created instantly once the demand returns. We have staff ready to work and we have rooms ready to be occupied as soon as domestic tourists begin freely moving around the country again.”
Mr Johnson said businesses heavily reliant on international tourism will benefit from a $50 million Regional Tourism Recovery Budget initiative to help them adapt their offerings to appeal to domestic visitors. The additional round of the Building Better Regions Fund will see half of the $200 million for projects dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure and $61.7 million of the COVID-19 recovery fund will be invested in heritage upgrades, conservation work and reef building to create more fishing and diving spots.
He said: “Our industry has suffered more than almost any other and until international travel resumes, we will continue to need this kind of support.
“It is pleasing to see the Federal government has listened to our concerns.”
Mr Johnson also welcomed the new subsidies for apprenticeships and said the sector would need more than 16,000 chefs over the next five years.
He said: “Food service industries employed 11,290 apprentices in 2019 with 5,400 new entrants. The industry used to employ more than 10,000 new apprentices each year but that number has been steadily declining.
“This new subsidy extends to small, medium and large-sized businesses and will hopefully see hundreds of new apprentices and trainees come into our industry as we work on our road to recovery.
“The JobMaker Hiring Credit and direct wage subsidy schemes will also be massive boosts to a sector which has kept accruing debt during restricted trading.”
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) agrees that COVID Budget offers a range of support for tourism businesses saying it contains an extensive array of support measures across the economy including a number of initiatives which will support flailing businesses within the tourism industry.
ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said: “ATEC is pleased to see a number of measures outlined in today’s budget which will provide support across the economy and for regional tourism businesses specifically, plus some welcome additional funding for Tourism Australia.
“Our industry has been the hardest hit in 2020, from the bushfires which saw mass cancellations from international and domestic visitors to the coronavirus which brought travel to a standstill, tourism businesses have never faced so many setbacks.
“What the tourism industry needs right now is support for businesses to get back on their feet and, where they are reliant on international borders being open, support to hang in there.”
He suggests that tourism businesses will welcome the measures such as: regional capability funding, small business supports, tax breaks and the extra funding for Tourism Australia to help market Australia to the world when international borders reopen.
He said: “As representatives of the inbound tourism sector, we are fully aware of the pressure being faced by businesses which have focused their efforts on attracting international visitors and how international and domestic travel bans have affected the industry in its entirety.
“With many of our supply chain businesses currently in hibernation we specifically welcome the tax loss carry back initiative which will help to stem some of the flow of loss to businesses and support them through to the other side.
“While some tourism operators will benefit from the imminent return of domestic tourism, many will struggle to make anywhere near the turnover they’ve achieved in their peak.
“These are businesses which have proven their ability to be successful and to make considerable contributions to the national economy so supporting them is supporting an industry which will be primed to help drive the economic recovery of our nation.
“Our research has shown the industry is surviving on JobKeeper and its continuation through until international borders reopen will be crucial to the future of many Australian tourism businesses.
“As an employer of one in every 12 Australian workers, we cannot afford to let this industry fail.”
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) WA also strongly welcomed the 2020-21 Federal Budget praising the number of measures to provide significant support for WA’s hotels and hospitality businesses to recover following the impact of COVID-19.
AHA(WA) CEO Bradley Woods expects WA’s hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs and taverns will have access to a number of incentives to grow and rebound quickly after a historically challenging year.
He said: “This is a considered Budget that will deliver comprehensive support for hotels and hospitality businesses to expand and grow in the months ahead.
“The combined measures across the board – which include personal income tax cuts, carry back provisions, capital assets deductions and substantial incentives to hire new workers – assist with investment and provide a comprehensive package for business.”
“The Budget includes targeted measures which incentivise the purchase of equipment that facilitate growth and efficiency.”
“Importantly, there are significant initiatives announced tonight that will encourage business owners to hire more staff, particularly younger workers, who play a critical role in the hospitality workforce.”
“Substantial incentives to hire apprentices and trainees in the months ahead will entice more young workers into WA’s hotels and hospitality businesses, helping safeguard our state’s future workforce requirements.”
Who are the losers? Some industry insiders argue that Women over 45 are the biggest losers of this budget and they make up a huge proportion of the tourism industry!
Indeed, Australian women made up the majority of those who lost their jobs during the COVID crisis.
and women over 45 were the fastest growing group to seek Jobseeker payments. Although this budget includes a second Women’s Economic Security Statement, with $240 million in measures and programs to support more opportunities for women more targeted support is required.