Billion dollar tourist package includes 800,000 half-price plane tickets

The federal government unveiled a $ 1.2 billion tourism package as part of its attempt to boost the economy in industries and regions affected by the pandemic when the JobKeeper wage subsidy is canceled at the end of the month.
Australian travelers will have access to 800,000 half-price airline tickets at 13 tourism-dependent regions, subsidized by the government as part of the package announced last night.

Other flagship measures include larger loans to small businesses dependent on JobKeeper – including a two-year repayment holiday – and direct help to help Qantas and Virgin keep employed workers and planes ready to fly again at abroad.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched the government’s new tourism package. (Nine)

The measures will see taxpayers subsidizing flights to and from destinations such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, Alice Springs and Launceston, as international border closures and intermittent national border closures keep tourists away.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today that the tourism package will help industries and regions across the country affected by the pandemic “weather the next bump” in economic recovery.

“We have to get tourists to the field and that’s what’s going to keep people in their jobs,” Mr. Morrison said.

“Just as we’ve seen in many states where people get in their cars and drive to these tourist destinations, we have to fight in remote areas of Cairns, the Gold Coast and northern Tasmania and make sure let these visitors go there. “

Mr Morrison said every dollar spent on a ticket in the air would equal about $ 10 spent on the ground in the area.

Qantas' jet lands.
Aviation and tourism are among the industries that could benefit from a post-JobKeeper boost. (Getty)

The federal government points out that demand will drive the number of tickets, but expects to subsidize about 46,000 plane tickets per week, for a total of 800,000.

The offer applies to 13 destinations, but Morrison said the government is open to adding more destinations to the package.

However, he admitted that the benefits of the package could be hampered if states decide to close their borders.

But the Prime Minister had high hopes “2021 is different from 2020”.

“In 2021, what’s appropriate with state borders, I think, is completely different, especially with the roll-out of the immunization program,” he said.

“Both airlines have made it pretty clear that for this to work best, states need to keep their borders open.”

In addition to the obvious benefits for airlines, tour operators and travel agents, the plan is designed to support accommodation and hospitality businesses in hardest hit areas when the JobKeeper grant expires on March 28.

But of all JobKeeper beneficiaries who don’t work or only work a few hours a week, around 20 percent are employed in cafes, restaurants, travel agencies, tour operators or airlines, according to government figures. .

Qantas planes at Sydney Airport. (PA)

Mr Morrison said that while the economy had recovered 85% of its pandemic collapse, the package was designed to help those most affected close the gap back to normalcy.

“This is our ticket to the recovery – 800,000 half-price plane tickets to get Australians to travel and support tour operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines who continue to deal with COVID-19 , while our international borders remain closed, “he said.

“This package will bring more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce called the $ 1.2 billion tourism package “great news for Australian tourism.”

“This is great news for Qantas, but especially for Qantas employees, who have suffered a lot over the past year,” he said.

Mr Joyce said the discounted tickets “will stimulate demand” at the 13 travel destinations.

“It’s good for local tourism in these states – tourism that has been devastated,” he said.

“We worried about the ecosystem of these small tour operators, the hotels that are there and making sure they can survive until we can pick up the international tourists as well.

“It ticks the box to help them. It also means we are activating more planes.”

Tourism and aviation support at a glance

  • From April 1 to July 31
  • 50 percent off domestic fares – travel to and from the sites will be subsidized
  • The itineraries are based on the fact that they depend on tourism for the gross domestic product and particularly on aviation for tourism from April to July
  • Demand determines the number of tickets and the locations from which flights will depart, but an estimated average of 46,000 reduced fares per week
  • Tickets available on airline websites from April 1
  • Any airline operator that has operated the routes in the previous two years will be eligible, but mainly Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and a few others.

The package comes with a plea to keep the borders open

The changes to small business loans tighten the SME loan guarantee scheme so that it only applies to businesses receiving JobKeeper in the March quarter, but taking into account an increase in the maximum size of small business loans. ‘a loan of $ 1 million to $ 5 million.

The turnover cap for qualifying businesses is also increasing, from $ 50 million to $ 250 million, and the government has committed to guaranteeing 80% of each loan, compared to the current 50/50 with banks.

The government has said direct aid to airlines will last from April 1 to October 31, when international flights are expected to resume.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. (Alex Ellinghausen)

It is designed to keep 8,600 international airline workers in jobs and planes ready to take off, in return for assurance from Qantas and Virgin that they will maintain a defined level of international flight readiness.

The Tourism and Transportation Forum had called for a $ 7.7 billion package until the end of the year, to bring the industry down to 75% of 2019 levels.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, whose state is home to several of the country’s most tourism-dependent regions, also called for an extension of JobKeeper.

She warned that Cairns in particular, one of the many parts of Queensland targeted in the new package, had 10,000 businesses on JobKeeper “fearing they might fall off a cliff” in late March.

In announcing the new package, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan took the opportunity to reiterate the government’s calls to states to find more consistency in closing borders.

“Our government’s support program will help attract more Australians to the tourist areas most affected by border closures,” he said.

“And we need states and territories to do their part in agreeing to a nationally consistent approach to using border closures and lockdowns as a last resort on medical advice. “

The government warns that these may change depending on negotiations and airline demand:

  • Adelaide – Côte d’Or
  • Melbourne – Gold Coast
  • Sydney – Gold Coast
  • Canberra – Gold Coast
  • Avalon – Gold Coast

Tropical North Queensland (Queensland)

  • Melbourne – Cairns
  • Sydney – Cairns
  • Darwin – Cairns

Whitsundays and Mackay Region (Queensland)

  • Sydney – Proserpine
  • Sydney – Hamilton Island
  • Sunshine Coast (Queensland)
  • Sydney – Maroochydore
  • Melbourne – Maroochydore
  • Adelaide – Maroochydore

Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory)

  • Adelaide – Alice Springs
  • Sydney – Uluru
  • Brisbane – Alice Springs
  • Melbourne – Alice Springs
  • Perth – Alice Springs
  • Sydney – Alice Springs
  • Brisbane – Uluru
  • Melbourne – Uluru

Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)

  • Melbourne – Launceston
  • Sydney – Launceston
  • Brisbane – Launceston
  • Melbourne – Devonport
  • Melbourne – Burnie

Broome (Western Australia)

  • Darwin – Broome
  • Sydney – Broome
  • Melbourne – Broome
  • Côte d’Or – Avalon
  • Sydney – Avalon

Merimbula (New South Wales)

Kangaroo Island (South Australia)

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