The Australian government has released modeling showing that the tourism industry has taken a $55 billion hit amid COVID-19 border closures and travel restrictions.
The news comes from Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham who has labelled the moves from state governments as “disproportionate,” and are set to exacerbate the tourism industry’s $55 billion loss in revenue.
Minister Birmingham pointed to modelling from the Tourism Research Australia group that forecast tourism revenue will be down by more than $23 billion when contrasted with 2019 figures. This estimate even took into account the reopening of state boundaries from the beginning of the 20-21 financial year.
The modelling forecasts that amid international travel restrictions, the cost to Australia’s tourism industry would hit an additional $31 billion, under the assumption that international travel will not resume until July 2021.
This means that overall, Australia’s revenue from tourism spending would be reduced from $138 billion to just $83 billion.
Birmingham has issued a statement saying that the “inconsistent and disproportionate approaches to border restrictions by some states and territories will continue to cause job losses in parts of our tourism industry.”
“Our airlines, hotels and tour operators rely on people doing more than taking a short self-drive holiday and we risk more job losses in these sectors if borders remain shut any longer than is necessary,” he said.
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Birmingham continued to “urge all state and territory leaders to take a sensible and proportionate approach to border restrictions, as getting more Australians traveling interstate will help save tourism businesses and jobs.”
It’s being reported that establishing an official definition of a COVID-19 ‘hotspot’ is atop the agenda for today’s National Cabinet meeting. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said previously that Australia is at risk of becoming a “dislocated nation” unless restrictions ease before the year’s end.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth has said the process is “very challenging.”
“Firstly, you need to know why we’re defining a hotspot,” Dr Coatsworth says. “Is it travel across interstate borders, is it about the public health measures that an individual state is going to introduce in response to one, two, five or 10 cases?”
“There are different reasons why you might want to define a hotspot and the reasons why you want to define the hotspot actually affects the definition,” he said.
The Morrison government is advocating for an official definition to be released, in spite of whether or not individual states and territories agree on that definition.
More to come as the National Cabinet meeting unfolds.