‘Enlightening visit’: Tourism minister outlines rebound plan
CAIRNS business leaders are upbeat about the prospect of continued federal government support for the ailing tourism industry following meetings with Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan.
Advance Cairns chairman Nick Trompf is confident Mr Tehan will return to Canberra and fervently put forth the case for the Far North - but delivery of a rescue package would ultimately be a cabinet decision.
"He understands there is a need for continued support and the nuances of regional areas.
"Now we will wait to see how successful he is in the cabinet room," Mr Trompf said.
"He was across the issues and said it was an enlightening visit and he had a better appreciation of what we faced in Cairns.
"From avocado and banana growers crying out for more workers, to tourism businesses saying they are going to have to let go of their best workers - the contrast couldn't be more acute," Mr Trompf said.
Cairns Airport chief executive Richard Barker felt certain that further support would be delivered.
"There is no doubt without federal government support we have huge issues in this town, but the minister was about as clear as he could be that some form of targeted, temporary and timely support would be delivered," Mr Barker said.
Tourism business heavily reliant on international visitors are battling, but Mr Tehan flagged that moves were underway to bring in 'travel bubbles' with countries including Singapore, Vietnam and Japan this year.
Mr Tehan said he hoped by this time next year, COVID-safe global travel would be the norm.
"In the meantime we will be doing everything we can to open bubbles with countries," he said.
Mr Tehan would not be drawn on what shape future business support would take.
"Times are tough for the tourism industry and we want to make sure when we are setting policy that we hear from those on the ground," he said.
He said JobKeeper was one of the most significant fiscal and labour market interventions in Australian history.
The payment, which started on March 30 last year and is set to end on March 28, has a forecast cost of $101.3bn.
"JobKeeper is probably the most effective government measure in Australian history - I mean, we have been hit by a pandemic but able to provide support to the business community and workers and we want to continue the economic rebound," Mr Tehan said.
"We made it very clear when we put JobKeeper in place that it was temporary and it was targeted to those parts of the economy really hit hard.
"It was something we saw as fundamentally important, and we want to make sure we get it right post-JobKeeper," Mr Tehan said.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said he urged the Prime Minister and the localfederal member Warren Entsch to take immediate action and commit to extending JobKeeper for the region's tourism operators.
Originally published as 'Enlightening visit': Tourism minister outlines rebound plan