Government’s tourism coronavirus package to replace JobKeeper set to be announced in coming days

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The support package for tourism businesses still struggling with international COVID border restrictions is due to be unveiled before the end of the week, with many hoping it will keep them afloat after JobKeeper ends.

The federal government is in the process of finalising the details of what kind of new, targeted support it will give to the ailing tourism sector.

Tourism Minister Dan Tehan would not reveal any details of the package, saying it would be announced in the next few days.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the program would hinge on making sure there are regular domestic flights, as well as support from state and territory leaders.

“What we want to see as the vaccine is rolled out, I think, [is] premiers should be less inclined to hit the panic button and to bring about border closures,” he said.

Mr McCormack said Australians needed to have confidence that when they booked a holiday they would be able to make the trip and then return home.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy is set to wrap up on March 28, with the number of people on the scheme continuing to fall.

Figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) showed 1.54 million people collected the subsidy between October and December, down from 3.6 million between April and September.

While some industries, like retail, have bounced back from the coronavirus recession better than others, tourism operators — particularly in areas that usually receive large international visitors — say they need more help.

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Far north Queensland tourism operators warn JobKeeper’s end will have a severe impact.

Nikki Giumelli runs a jet boating business in far north Queensland and said the stability brought by international tourists was “gone”.

She said she was worried tourism operators would not survive once JobKeeper ends.

“JobKeeper was really helpful for our business as we were getting back on our feet, it was one of the reasons we could get back on our feet and have confidence to keep our staff engaged and employed,” she said.

“We are saying there is still great need in the business community here to support this particular destination.

“Keep skilled labour here so that we are really strong for the return of [international tourists].”

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