Tourism Industry Support
22 Feb | '2021
I believe that everyone in this chamber understands and will be well aware that the tourism industry in this country, and indeed across Moncrieff, has suffered significant damage due to the pandemic. Job losses and business losses from that impact have been severe. It means that many families have been impacted and they’ve been less prosperous. Morrison government support has been required, through JobKeeper 1 and JobKeeper 2 help, and it’s much appreciated on the Gold Coast. Pre-pandemic in 2019, tourism provided one in six jobs on the Gold Coast, so it’s a key economic pillar for us, particularly in Moncrieff. The impact was immediate. I’ll reel off some numbers for you. Total visitor numbers in the three months to March 2019 slumped by 34 per cent. In the three months to September 2020, compared with the same period the year before, we saw a 56 per cent reduction in total overnight-visitor numbers for my region. Total visitor nights were down 76 per cent. Total overnight-visitor spend dropped 68 per cent. That means there were lots and lots of lights off in those hotels on the Glitter Strip, as it’s known—Surfers Paradise, the Gold Coast. It’s been absolutely decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Morrison government has rightly provided significant support to the industry with JobKeeper, the cash flow boost and investment in lending incentives, and tourism has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund. It includes $308 million worth of assistance for regional airlines, which impact the Gold Coast, and $100 million for tourism related infrastructure through the Building Better Regions Fund. There were some tourism-specific measures from the Morrison government, apart from the $128 million extra that went to travel agents—I must say, I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister around that and was primary in delivering that for travel agents, particularly in Moncrieff. In my electorate, I have many of them who are hurting. There was also $94.6 million supporting Australia’s exhibiting zoos and aquariums, and $5.7 million of that went to Gold Coast zoos and aquariums. In my electorate, that includes Sea World, which actually received $3 million to help feed their dolphins. As I’ve said before in this place, it’s $1,000 a week to feed one animal at Sea World, which is very, very expensive, and the Morrison government continues to support them.
The $50 million Business Events Grant program is actually still open until 30 March 2021. The program has already had 190 approved events, including 22 Gold Coast based events. Tourism Australia’s new domestic business events campaign, which is called ‘Event Here This Year’ will dovetail into the Business Events Grant program. That campaign complements the Holiday Here This Year—or Holiday There This Year, on the Gold Coast please!—a campaign from Tourism Australia in which the Gold Coast features heavily.
The Gold Coast has been allocated $10 million under the $50 million Recovery for Regional Tourism grant program as well, so that will help us on the Gold Coast to recover. That’s more support from the Morrison government, of course. Tourism event industries are grateful for the support they have received. The scale of the problems are such that the difficulties do continue.
Earlier this month, the federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment visited my electorate of Moncrieff, hearing directly from stakeholders in the tourism and event industries, along with local Gold Coast ministers the member for McPherson and the member for Fadden, at a round table meeting that I organised at The Star. The Star is one of the Gold Coast’s largest employers and of course bleeds across into tourism significantly. The roundtable focused on what’s now needed to adapt to the current circumstances. There were a plethora of stakeholders there, including the Gold Coast Airport, Study Gold Coast, the three universities on the coast, RDA, Village Roadshow, Ardent Leisure, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Major Events Gold Coast, Sports Gold Coast, small business operators and the city were all there at the table putting their case forward to the minister. Those participants made it clear that the state border closures have actually had a massive impact on Gold Coast tourism. Locking out the Victorian market to us on the Gold Coast damaged us and our confidence greatly, and that’s what we need the most: confidence. State governments need to put in place best-management practice for outbreaks—can I say New South Wales is the gold standard, as it’s received four times the travellers into quarantine than Victoria with only a quarter of the COVID-19 cases—and that means the states should be able to deliver that with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.