The State’s tourism operators are reaching breaking point as ongoing lockdowns interstate and local restrictions continue to severely hamper their revenue sources.
Whilst the recent 7-day lockdown impacted businesses state-wide, our tourism sector has essentially been in lockdown since May due to ongoing border closures.
Operators say they need urgent targeted economic support.
For example, they cite the challenges they face accessing the Government’s recently announced Business Support Package.
To access that package, operators have to demonstrate a 30% reduction in turnover from the previous week, yet many have been already bumping along with very low turnover because of lockdowns and border closures interstate.
South Australia has experienced a whopping $3.7 billion decline in visitor expenditure since the peak of December 2019, and small family businesses which have taken years to build, are beginning to close their doors.
Domestic travel is likely to remain uncertain until vaccination rates are significantly increased. If we want tourism to flourish once travel does return to normal, they need immediate assistance now.
Earlier this week, SA Labor called on the Marshall Liberal Government to follow the lead of New South Wales and establish a $200 million support fund for businesses suffering falls in revenues due to the ongoing restrictions, along with the establishment of a JobSeeker-like program to ensure workers in the industry have an income.
The new support measures would be negotiated between government and industry leaders, and be triggered by restrictions of 50% of a business venue capacity, or one person per two square metres, or less.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison
I’ve heard stories of people processing $50 - $100,000 in refunds in a week, which is clearly unsustainable for micro or small family businesses.
The harsh reality is that when other states lockdown these businesses shutdown.
The challenges in meeting the criteria for the Business Support Package means they need immediate targeted assistance.
Quotes attributable to Small Batch Wine Tours' Matthew Kurko
Since the COVID Pandemic started, my business turnover has dropped 42% on average. Of those bookings, I've had to cancel and refund another 42%.
This leaves me with just under 25% of my average turnover to pay my overheads and try to make a living.
The banks originally deferred my home and business loans for 9 months which, along with JobKeeper, helped me make ends meet. The last 20 months have just been a tussle of rescheduling bookings, dealing with stressed customers, and refunding cancellations.
Small Batch, along with many other small tourism businesses across the country have been lucky to keep our head above water until now. Without a direct financial lifeline from the government we're all going to drown.
International trade relationships that have taken years to establish will disappear, and our almost $8 billion slice of the tourism pie is going to get gobbled up by other destinations.