Cairns and Far North Queensland hotels, caravan parks, restaurants, bars, retail stores and tourism operators will benefit from a domestic tourism boom under the Morrison Government’s $1.2 billion tourism and aviation recovery package.
The comprehensive package includes a mix of half-price airline tickets, cheap loans for businesses and direct support to keep planes in the air and airline workers in their jobs.
The tourism and recovery package will continue to provide on-going support for Cairns, Port Douglas and Kuranda tourism operators and local businesses, while supporting local jobs.
Cairns is one of 13 destinations across the nation that will benefit from the half-priced airfares program.
The half-price ticket program will see tourists from Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin receive subsidised flights to Cairns from 1 April 2021 until 31 July 2021.
The program will see the Morrison Government subsidies more than 800,000 flights, or about 46,000 per week, to one of the 13 identified destinations across the nation.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the comprehensive tourism and aviation recovery package will see southern tourists flock to Cairns and Far North Queensland.
“The Morrison Government has listened to the local tourism industry and acted,” Mr Entsch said
“We have done the bulk of the heavy lifting in supporting the local tourism industry, supporting local businesses, and supporting local jobs.
“The Morrison Government will absolutely continue to provide that support them moving forward.
“This package will see thousands of tourists in our hotels, restaurants and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard.
“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back and this program will deliver the boots on the ground they desperately need.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen welcomed the half-price ticket subsidy from and the extension of programs supporting zoos, aquariums, and travel agent support.
“The federal government has been listening, and this is a step in the right direction for Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to close the gap left behind without international visitation,” Mr Olsen said.
“If our region can secure our share of this important initiative, we can drive another 5000 to 7000 additional visitors every single week and if they are new visitors that’s a $1 million per day being injected into our community.
“We look forward to working with the federal government to deliver additional support programs to drive the conversion of these additional travellers into our experiences who are COVID safe and ready to offer world class experiences.”
Mr Entsch said another critical aspect of the tourism and aviation recovery package was the expansion and extension of the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme.
“As we move into the recovery phase, the scheme will be targeted and tailored to support those businesses that have been relying on JobKeeper during the March quarter,” he said.
“The expanded scheme will also increase the size of eligible loans, increasing from $1 million under the current scheme to $5 million.
“Businesses with a higher turnover will also benefit under the expanded scheme, with the maximum eligible turnover increased from $50 million to $250 million.
“Maximum loan terms under the expanded scheme will also be increased from 5 to 10 years – providing businesses and lenders with greater flexibility.
“The expanded scheme will also allow lenders to offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months.
“But more importantly, the scheme will also be able to be used by eligible businesses to refinance their existing loans.
“This will allow SMEs to access the more concessional interest rates available under the program and to better manage their cash-flows through an extended loan term and lower combined repayments.”
Cairns Chamber of Commerce president Sally Mlikota said overall tourism and aviation recovery package is exactly what our region needed.
“The initiatives contained in this comprehensive package demonstrates the Morrison Government has listened to our region and to the concerns of the Cairns business community,” she said.
“The special loans and further industry assistance will help Cairns businesses after JobKeeper ends to keep their doors open and be ready for the influx of tourists coming to our region on the half-price flights.”
Mr Entsch said a further aspect of the tourism and aviation recovery package was the extension of the international freight assistance mechanism until 30 September 2021.
“During the recent roundtable Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, local exporters and industry leaders said the extension of this program was critical moving forward,” he said.
“We listened, we acted, and we have delivered.
“This means that local exporters will continue to have access to reliable flights to get their produce to overseas markets.”
Advance Cairns executive chairman Nick Trompf welcomed the range of government initiatives announced to drive demand and to provide support post-JobKeeper.
“The extension of the international freight assistance mechanism until the end of September will help preserve high-value exports from Cairns,” Mr Trompf said.
“Hopefully by then it will become clearer around the potential return of international flights, with key routes such as Japan and Singapore particularly important.”
OTHER KEY INITIATIVES UNDER THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT’S $1.2BN TOURISM AND AVIATION RECOVERY PACKAGE:
International Aviation Support:
Financial support from 1 April to 31 October (when international flights are expected to resume) Support is delivered as a payment to airlines to maintain an agreed core international capability (crew and aircraft) based on pre-COVID international passenger services.
This support will keep 8600 international aviation employees in work and ready to be deployed, as well as planes in flight-ready condition.
Aviation Services Accreditation Support Program:
Program to run until 30 September 2021.
Cover the cost of ground handlers maintaining their mandatory training, certification, and accreditation
Expectation that it will cover 30 per cent of ground handling companies pre-COVID workforce, meaning they’re ready to stand back up when the market expands again.
Domestic and regional aviation network support:
Program extended until 30 September 2021.
Program will support a range of key routes to ensure passenger and freight and cargo movement.
Domestic airports security charges support:
Program waiving aviation security charges will be extended until 30 September 2021.
Airservices fee waiver:
Program waiving Airservices Australia charges on domestic airline operations will be extended until 30 September 2021.
Business events grants program:
The $50 million Business Events Grants Program will also be extended by three months to support Australian businesses to hold multi-day business events, covering up to 50 per cent of costs incurred in participating business events during the 2021 calendar year.
This will help restart Australia’s business events sector.
Zoos and aquarium package:
The $94.6 million Zoos and Aquarium program will be extended by six months to support zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks to maintain their animal populations where their tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.
Consumer travel support program:
This program that offers one-off grants to help travel agents and tour arrangement service providers stay viable will be extended for a further three months.
For more information on the Government’s COVID-19 support for aviation visit: www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/index.aspx#aviation
For further information on the COVID 19 tourism support plan visit: www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business
For further information on the Small and Medium Enterprise Recovery Loan Scheme visit: www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/sme-guarantee-scheme