23 April 2020
The tourism industry has lost $3.1 billion and more than 30,000 jobs as six months’ worth of bookings were cancelled, and refunds paid to customers, following regional WA travel restrictions.
“Tourism operators have not just lost three weeks of trade since regional travel restrictions were implemented, they immediately lost six months’ worth of bookings as people were encouraged to cancel their holiday plans,” Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said.
Mr Hall said tourism businesses could not take bookings again until restrictions were lifted, but many businesses would not survive that long due to an immediate cash flow crisis.
“For the tourism industry, it’s not simply a case of removing restrictions and customers returning immediately – there will be a lag time before bookings and revenue return,” he said.
“For regional seasonal businesses, this means they face up to 18 months without customers and income as they had just concluded their off-season when travel restrictions came into place.”
A survey of tourism businesses conducted this week revealed more than 70 per cent of operators have insufficient cash to pay employees or owner-operators and service costs essential to survive a period of hibernation.
Mr Hall said tourism was a significant economic contributor, but the travel restrictions had already resulted in thousands of jobs being shed across the industry.
“It is estimated the impact of travel restrictions so far has been 30,500 jobs lost and $3.1billion less for the WA economy,” he said.
Tourism businesses still face fixed and operational costs to maintain their business and assets during hibernation, and many are unable to access government assistance such as JobKeeper.
“Our survey reveals around half of tourism businesses cannot access the JobKeeper wage subsidy, either due to the seasonal nature of their business or not having enough cash to pay employees in advance of receiving the subsidy,” Mr Hall said.
“More than sixty per cent of businesses have shut down and the remainder have dramatically reduced operations. Without immediate cash flow to sustain them, some of them may never reopen for the eventual recovery.”
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