Regional areas across the country are at risk of not only huge economic losses, but Australian Regional Tourism warns recovery for many is no more than a pipe dream.
The industry previously worth $138 billion and attributing to one in 12 jobs nationally, and closer to one in six jobs in some regions, has been hardest hit by the COVID downturn. There is no doubt the country faces the largest health crisis in many generations; however the collective State and Territory Governments refusal to successfully collaborate on a coordinated response to restrictions, ongoing border closures and lack of a national strategy to rebuild industry, is crippling the nation.
It’s agreed short-time survival measures such as JobKeeper were effective and implemented quickly, however, now 18-months on, we still have no clear national long-term strategy to lead us out of this mess according to Australian Regional Tourism Chair, Coralie Bell
‘Small business remains at the front line of this ongoing debacle. The opening and closing of state borders and the state-based approach to restrictions is a joke” Mrs Bell said.
“Enough is enough. Cities are empty. Any business that is located more than three hours from a major city is empty. If you’re on a border town – heaven help you, you are the forgotten people.”
Calling out current piecemeal approaches by states and territories, Australian Regional Tourism reiterated the tourism sector support for health considerations.
“This is not about health and safety. Everybody knows health should come first. This is about leadership of a country and an ability for states and territories to put aside egos and work across borders for the greater good of Australian citizens and business, it’s an embarrassment.” Mrs Bell said.
“In WA, you may find yourself singing “Welcome to the Hotel California”, because life seems great and you can pretend COVID doesn’t exist – but you can never leave! With the Premier continuing to enforce hard closures with no end in sight, pointing fingers at the naughty big sister, NSW.
If you’re in NSW, you’re going to need vaccination proof to leave your home it seems, as international media start to question if Australia really is a free country. And in Qld – well, you can sit in a stadium and watch the footy! Hurrah”
If we can’t even get our own backyards straight, how are we ever to return to a place where international visitors feel confident to travel. We should be ashamed’. Mrs Bell said.
Governments have had ample time to address industry priorities and strengthen the regional business outlook; however we are yet to see any real and meaningful action. Industry is tired of the bickering and hearing the same thing over and over.
Without a clear and coordinated National strategy we have no pathway to rebuild what once was a $138 billion dollar industry, and the backbone of Australia.