tourism major casualty of COVID-19

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) points to yesterday’s release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Weekly Jobs and Wages Performance across Australia as an indicator of the decimation of the tourism and hospitality industry, resulting from Coronavirus shutdowns since mid-March.

VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said, “Today’s results are a sad reflection of what our industry has known for months. While every business has suffered under the weight of the national shutdowns that were required in flattening the curve back in March, no industry has been hit as hard, and for such an extended period of time, as the sectors that make up our tourism economy.

“This is why we are collectively calling on the Federal Government to extend the JobKeeper Fund for an industry that’s simply not had the chance to recover to the levels of other industries as restrictions have eased.”

ABS figures released on 14 July for jobs in Accommodation and Food Services from mid-March to 27 June show a dramatic decrease of 21% over the period – nearly four times that of the ‘all industries’ average – with a corresponding decline of nearly 18% in total wages.

Arts and Recreation were also hit hard, with an 18% decline in paid jobs in the sector over the same period, an outcome that’s over three times the ‘all industries’ average of -5.7%. 

“These worrying figures are exacerbated further by the fact that operators in Victoria have suffered yet another body blow with the reinstatement of Stage 3 Restrictions in Metro Melbourne LGAs and the Mitchell Shire.

“Even before the second lockdown, Victoria already had the largest loss of jobs in the country, down by 6.6% from 14 March to 27 June.

“From industry surveys conducted by VTIC during the first shutdown, we know that 66% of Victorian operators had to close their businesses completely, and only 25% were able to find some way to partially maintain operating,” Ms Mariani said.

Most tourism businesses in Victoria had resumed operations roughly four weeks ago under strict capacity and distancing regulations; only to have it all cease in the last week as affected postcodes were ordered back into lockdown and borders were closed to other states.

“Every tourism business across Victoria has pointed to JobKeeper as the primary lifeline that’s enabled them to keep their businesses afloat. With the latest round of restrictions placing unbearable stress on Victorian tourism operators, the extension of JobKeeper will be the difference between businesses going to the wall and potentially surviving from now to the end of this nightmare year.

“It’s been encouraging to hear the positive comments coming from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in recent days about continuing to support businesses and geographic regions that are struggling in the grips of COVID-19 restrictions. 

“VTIC looks forward to announcements on 23 July in this regard and is urging the Federal Government to recognise the unique and painful situation that the tourism industry in Victoria continues to endure,” Ms Mariani said.

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