Hard-hit travel agents will receive more than $75 million in government support to help them get back on their feet after their businesses were pushed to the brink by the COVID pandemic.
In the wake of state and international borders reopening, a new program will offer targeted assistance to agents and arrangers of tour-service providers.
The funds will be directed towards helping travellers re-book trips using existing COVID-related credits.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan says the $75.5 million package will boost the industry’s bid to rebound from two years of travel bans and closed borders.
“Australia’s tourism industry is bouncing back, with international and state borders now open and a date set for the resumption of cruising,” he said.
“Confidence is growing, Australians are booking holidays with their travel credits and our travel agents are in demand.”
No time to waste
Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Dean Long says it’s critically important the money is distributed quickly to eligible businesses and he believes a revised eligibility framework will facilitate that.
“Australians travelling are relying on their travel professionals now more than ever and this financial support is needed to start the process of rebuilding including replacing the 15,000 highly skilled people lost across Australia due to the financial devastation of COVID-restrictions and travel bans,” he said.
The package comes just days after the Commonwealth announced an end to the ban on cruise ships entering Australia from April 17. International liners have been unable to dock as a result of the pandemic.
The latest round of industry support also comes on top of $184 million in relief measures to travel agents since the start of the pandemic, with more than 5400 grants issued to more than 3200 agents.
The new assistance will be made up of grants of between $7500 and $90,000, based on previous turnover levels with applications to open on March 29 and close on April 20.