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Tourism industry loans, grants expected when JobKeeper runs out

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Loans and aviation grants are expected to replace JobKeeper payments when the wage subsidy scheme ends on March 31, with the tourism industry fearing tens of thousands of jobs will be lost.

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will outline the replacement pandemic supports in Queensland later this week.

Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council said operators across the state were crying out for more support.

“There are many parts of our industry that are still struggling,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“Cairns is one example, but it’s right across the spectrum of destinations.

“Even in Brisbane and here on the Gold Coast, we have enormous problems with businesses that cannot get international travellers, but also domestic travellers with the uncertainty that we have seen over the last 12 months.”

The Queensland government estimates 50,000 jobs will be lost in that state when JobKeeper ends on March 31, many of those in tourism-dependent regions.

Gschwind hopes it does not come to that, but said it was a real risk, with many small businesses already starting to shed staff.

“That risk is obviously increasing with the end of JobKeeper and we’re urging federal and state governments to really look at every option to ensure that we can keep the skills in place,” he said.

“That’s very important because if we lose the staff and the skills it will be very, very difficult to crank the economy up again when domestic and eventually international visitors return.

“And the cost to the federal government and state governments will be far greater if we lose the staff, lose the skills, and then have to deal with the damage afterwards.”

The Tourism and Transport Forum recently released heat map research showing more than 34 per cent of the country’s tourism hotspots had suffered a 40 per cent or more decline in visitors in the year ended September, due to the pandemic.

Falls in visitor numbers in the rest of Australia ranged between 10 per cent to 40 per cent, the research by Stafford Strategy found.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government had already committed $251 billion in support for business and industry, with a further $100 billion still to be rolled out.

However, he recognised there were specific challenges in aviation and tourism which needed a government response.

“What I’ve heard from some businesses that I’ve met is that some are doing well and others are finding it a bit more challenging … so it’s about targeting that support but also providing opportunities for those who are doing OK to even take on more more workers,” he said.

-with AAP

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