Tourism businesses are at boiling point over the lack of uncertainty due to coronavirus restrictions, and jobs are on the line, a Senate inquiry has been told.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Jenny Lambert has told the inquiry an immediate fix for the sector is to ensure business is confident of a way forward.
She says business confidence has been rocked by decisions made after Victoria’s virus outbreak, particularly on border closures on the basis of a small number of cases.
‘The frustration of the business community is boiling over,’ she said on Thursday.
‘Businesses will hang on – they’ll keep remortgaging their house, they’ll keep doing whatever it takes to hang on if they see a future.
‘But if they don’t see an immediate future then it’s very hard for them to hang on and that will mean many, many thousands of jobs lost in tourism in the next month or two.’
ACCI has warned 172,000 businesses only have two weeks left of financial reserves.
Tourism groups are frustrated state governments haven’t stuck to the coronavirus roadmap and are urging for national guidelines on when borders can close and reopen.
Australian Tourism Industry Council chief Simon Westaway has suggested state borders reopen after 28 days of no community transmission.
Without public confidence, there will be no sustainable tourism industry in the future.
‘This is the critical elixir,’ Mr Westaway said.
Queensland’s border closures alone has cost $21 million and 173 jobs a day.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will discuss border controls with premiers and chief ministers when national cabinet meets on Friday.
The Senate inquiry also heard from hospitality workers who expressed frustration about the impending JobKeeper rate reduction.
United Workers Union member Josephine Annink told the inquiry she had no choice but to drain her superannuation account to stay afloat.
It comes as Qantas announced they will not begin flying internationally again until at least July 2021 as it records a $2billion loss in the 2020 financial year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 6,000 staff lost their jobs and another 20,000 were stood down as the embattled airline’s profits plunged by 91 percent after the crisis grounded almost all international travel in early 2020.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the second half of 2020 was the toughest few months in the Flying Kangaroo’s illustrious 99-year history – it turns 100 on November 16th – and called on state premiers to reconsider tough border closures.
‘The impact of COVID on all airlines is clear. It’s devastating and it will be a question of survival for many,’ he said.
‘We don’t understand why states with zero cases still have borders closed to other states with zero cases… If it’s safe, we need to reopen them.’
A statement released by Qantas on Thursday morning described 2020 as ‘the most challenging period in its long history’.
Bosses confirmed Qantas’ international flights were unlikely to restart until at least July 2021, and domestic travel would be at 20 per cent of its usual levels.
Victoria has recorded 240 new cases in the last 24 hours and 13 more deaths, taking the national toll to 463.
A woman who works at a youth detention centre in Brisbane has tested positive for coronavirus, with authorities busily testing residents.
Western Australia is planning to put ankle monitoring bracelets on anyone in hotel quarantine who is deemed to be at risk of absconding.
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth has encouraged state and territory leaders to be as transparent as possible about their decision-making over border closures.
‘What I would say … is it’s a general principle of medicine when you’re doing anything to treat a problem is ‘first do no harm’.’