15 airline routes will be half-price from 1st April to get city drive markets on a plane and into the regions.
Whilst much of the Australian domestic tourism market has recovered due to limitations – the Hunter Valley has been packed as one of Sydney’s drive markets, for example – areas like Broome and The Whitsundays, generally reliant on international travel and flights from the southern domestic markets – the far flung regions are still in need of this support.
The government is also extending the SME Recovery Loan Scheme (financial instruments via commercial lenders but with e.g. 2-year repayment holidays) to increase availability to businesses that were receiving JobKeeper in early 2021.
Whilst the only rhetoric from major media outlets has been dissatisfaction from regions left out of the scheme, the rest of the country’s tourism operators, in their constant toil, rather than whinging, are head-down tail up figuring how they can best utilise the expected influx to an airport near them.
Routes covered –
Gold Coast (Queensland), Adelaide – Gold Coast
Gold Coast (Queensland), Melbourne – Gold Coast
Gold Coast (Queensland), Sydney – Gold Coast
Gold Coast (Queensland), Canberra – Gold Coast
Gold Coast (Queensland), Avalon – Gold Coast
Tropical North Queensland (Queensland), Melbourne – Cairns
Tropical North Queensland (Queensland), Sydney – Cairns
Tropical North Queensland (Queensland), Darwin – Cairns
Whitsundays and Mackay region (Queensland), Sydney – Proserpine
Whitsundays and Mackay region (Queensland), Sydney – Hamilton Island
Sunshine Coast (Queensland), Sydney – Maroochydore
Sunshine Coast (Queensland), Melbourne – Maroochydore
Sunshine Coast (Queensland), Adelaide – Maroochydore
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Adelaide – Alice Springs
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Sydney – Uluru
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Brisbane – Alice Springs
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Melbourne – Alice Springs
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Perth – Alice Springs
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Sydney – Alice Springs
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Brisbane – Uluru
Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory), Melbourne – Uluru
“Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)”, Melbourne – Launceston
“Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)”, Sydney – Launceston
“Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)”, Brisbane – Launceston
“Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)”, Melbourne – Devonport
“Launceston, Devonport and Burnie (Tasmania)”, Melbourne – Burnie
Broome (Western Australia), Darwin – Broome
Broome (Western Australia), Sydney – Broome
Broome (Western Australia), Melbourne – Broome
Avalon (Victoria), Gold Coast – Avalon
Avalon (Victoria), Sydney – Avalon
Merimbula (New South Wales), Melbourne – Merimbula
Kangaroo Island (South Australia), Adelaide – Kingscote
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for adding further destinations to his government’s 800,000 half-price airfares scheme to help boost the tourism sector following the end of JobKeeper at the end of the month.
With the tourism sector disappointed with the scope of the $1.2 billion rescue package and state and territory governments furious some cities were excluded from the 13 destinations, the Morrison government hastily added Darwin and Adelaide to the list on Thursday night.
Mr Morrison on Friday defended the tourism assistance package that has not placated the industry, which had lobbied for a wage subsidy to stop significant job losses and business closures.
He described the $1.2 billion package as “targeted and proportionate”, but said it was the single largest support package for the tourism and travel sector in Australia’s history.
“So it is a big package that taxpayers are putting their hands in their pockets for to put money in the pockets of these distressed regions,” he said.
“So that is what has driven our decisions and if there’s other locations we can think can become part of this system, then we will look at it.”
After outrage from Northern Territory tourism bosses and local politicians, Country Liberal Party Northern Territory senator Sam McMahon confirmed Darwin was included on the list of destinations after discussions with federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan. Adelaide was also added to the publicly named list.
A spokesman for Mr Tehan said Darwin and Adelaide were on the original list of regions, but were not included in the original press release.
Mr Tehan on Friday confirmed other destinations would be added in response to demand after tickets go on sale on April 1.
“These aren’t set in stone. We’re going to work, continue to work with the aviation sector and if there are other destinations we need to add, we will do that,” he said.
Mr Morrison attempted to put the pressure back on state governments, including Queensland and Western Australia, about keeping their borders open until national borders reopen later this year.
“The places we have picked, at this point, are really those who are most proportionately impacted by the closing of international borders, so to ensure that we can get help to them, we need those domestic borders to stay open,” he said.
Of the destinations now chosen for the 800,000 half-price fares – which equates to 46,000 flights a week – five are in Queensland (Cairns, Whitsundays, Hamilton Island, Maroochydore and the Gold Coast).
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick this week bemoaned the fact the half-price ticket scheme does not cover intrastate trips, such as Brisbane to Cairns.
Deputy federal Labor leader Richard Marles described the tourism package as a “lemon”, saying it would not help the 500,000 people who lost their jobs in the tourism sector last year.
“With this now in place, and there being no other answer, we’re going to see hundreds of thousands of more job losses baked into the sector going forward,” Mr Marles told Nine’s Today.
“And in that sense, the government has missed the mark with this package.”
Other critics said the tourism package was a big win for airlines, rather than tourism operators who are struggling to hold on until the return of international tourists.
But Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the half-price tickets would help save jobs in the tourism sector.
“The intent is we will be passing on those savings to consumers so there will be a stimulus effect,” he told ABC Radio National.
“Consumers will take flights to places they weren’t going to go like the Gold Coast and Cairns and that will allow them to spend money on the ground with tour operators and hotels and that will protect those jobs to be maintained.”
Mr Joyce said Qantas was expecting to add five flights a day to the Gold Coast and three flights a day to Cairns to deal with the expected uptick in demand.
A Tourism Whitsundays spokeswoman said the $1.2 billion package would go a long way towards helping the region which is heavily reliant on international visitation.
”Some operators in the Whitsundays heavily rely on the international market, with international visitors making up to 98 per cent of their business and any support to help these segments survive is welcomed,” the spokeswoman said.