Big city lockdowns hit small town Australia

Australian Tourism Export Council chief urges country to back vaccines as state Covid outbreaks hurt local businesses

METROPOLITAN lockdowns in Australia are adding to the woes of businesses in largely localised areas of the country who have already lost the overseas tourism market, says the main body representing inbound travel.

The Australian Tourism Export Council (Atec) has urged members to get behind the federal government’s vaccination program as it was the only way Australians can reclaim their ability to plan and travel.

Lockdown restrictions have reemerged in Australia due to a surge in Covid transmissions after hopes that interstate tourism was returning after outbreaks previously came under control.

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Tourism businesses in small towns, big cities and regional tourism centres have seen millions of dollars in bookings cancelled and their future bookings evaporate despite not being directly affected by the current lockdown restrictions, Atec said in a statement issued today.

Atec managing director Peter Shelly added: “Tourism businesses are uniquely affected by metropolitan lockdowns as they don’t need to be in Sydney or Melbourne to have their business wiped out.

“From the Northern Territory to Tasmania, North Queensland to the Kimberleys, the tourism industry has once again been hit with another disaster which has seen the loss of another peak season income opportunity.

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“Lockdowns in major cities halt the travel and holiday plans of hundreds of thousands of people and this flows on to massive cancellations across the country as people are either unable to travel or they lose confidence in doing so.

“Australian tourism businesses are not only suffering from the ongoing loss of international visitors, they are battling a consistently shifting domestic travel environment where people are losing confidence in their ability to go anywhere,” Shelly said.

Atec says the only way forward is for Australia and its tourism industry to support the vaccinations rollout and protect the community.

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“We recently reached out to our members to check how they were managing vaccinations and found most staff have already been vaccinated with many businesses offering time off for their staff to get their jab.

“Without mass vaccinations, both domestic and internationally focused tourism businesses, worth more than A$150 billion to our economy annually, will continue to be victims to stop-start border closures and localised Covid outbreaks.

“The only way we can have some certainty for our industry, is to support the vaccination roll out to help protect our community and reopen our economy.”

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