Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of the JobKeeper payment as a lifeline for businesses needing to retain staff while they are not allowed to trade.
TTNQ Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said TTNQ and its members had lobbied for a wage subsidy as a priority for the tourism sector.
“Over the past three weeks the region has seen more than $200 million in cancellations and lost visitor spend with more than 2650 jobs lost in the tourism industry,” he said.
“This announcement will allow businesses to pay critical staff such as wildlife keepers, housekeepers and maintenance staff who need to remain in their roles while the business is closed.
“It will support many businesses in the retail and hospitality sector including accommodation, cafes operating a takeaway menu, and small retailers to retain some staff so they can continue to operate.
“The Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region is home to highly skilled and specialised staff including marine skippers and engineers, Master Reef Guides and Savannah Guides and TTNQ will work with government to see how these roles can be further supported and utilised during the down time.
“With the tourism industry shutting down we faced the prospect of losing skilled workers which would create yet another problem if we enter the recovery phase without the key staff needed for the industry to succeed.
“It is vital that tourism operators retain sales, marketing and operational teams who can help drive innovation in the product to meet the needs of customers as soon as they are allowed to trade.
“The destination’s recovery will be strengthened if these teams are in place with strategies ready to entice people to travel again.
“By December this year the region will have lost an estimated $2.5 billion in visitor spend which would have supported 11,000 full-time jobs in our region.
“If the industry is ready to accelerate it could mean a $500 million difference to our region and support 2500 jobs coming back on line up to six months earlier.”