Federal Relief Needed to Protect WA Tourism

11 February 2020

Tourism Council WA has called on the Federal Government to immediately respond to the crisis facing the WA tourism industry from the coronavirus and inject $76 million for international marketing, small business support and regional tourism.

The severity of the impact of travel restrictions due to coronavirus on WA’s tourism industry is to the same scale of the recent bushfires, following which the Federal Government allocated $76 million for an industry recovery package. 

“Tourism Council WA is calling on the Federal Government to match its bushfire recovery package to assist the industry with the challenge presented by the coronavirus and associated travel ban,” Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said.

“An immediate Federal response is required to protect tourism businesses, the jobs they create and the communities they support.

“We congratulate the State Government for its swift response, supporting the industry with almost $5 million in additional tourism marketing funding, announced yesterday.”

Tourism Council WA conducted a survey of WA tourism businesses which found 78 per cent of businesses were experiencing some impact from coronavirus and the associated travel ban. 

“Of the businesses experiencing an impact, 43 per cent of businesses have experienced cancellations from Chinese visitors and 40 per cent are reporting reduced forward bookings from the Chinese market,” Mr Hall said.

“But the impact reaches beyond the China market – 28 per cent of businesses reported reduced forward bookings from other international visitors, and 17 per cent have experienced cancellations from other international markets.”

Even if the travel ban is lifted, it could be months before flights resume and normal visitation returns.

“The tourism industry’s experience with similar challenges, such as SARS and September 11, shows it can take a year or more for visitation to return to previous levels,” Mr Hall said. 

“The travel ban is having a huge economic, social and health impact on tourism businesses and their staff, and should not be continued any longer than necessary.” 

The survey showed that on average, businesses were reporting a 25 per cent decline in bookings and revenue over the next four weeks. Thirty per cent of businesses have reduced staff shifts or cut staffing levels, and 15 per cent of businesses have cancelled tours, events, buses and facilities to contain costs. 

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