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Australia’s tourism industry is forecast to lose nearly $ 7 billion and put 320,000 jobs at risk during the summer vacation period due to national and international border closures triggered by COVID-19.

A new analysis by the Tourism and Transportation Forum (TTF) found that in the short period from December 24, 2020 to January 31, 2021, vacation spending is projected to drop by $ 6.8 billion.

The research also predicts that if border closures continue and JobKeeper ends as planned in March, up to 320,000 tourism jobs could be lost by September 2021.

The Australian Red Center is currently only really open to a few domestic and local tourists. (Tourism NT / Paddy Pallin)

TTF Executive Director Margy Osmond said that the idea that domestic tourism could replace the windfall that international visitors bring was a “myth.”

“The suggestion that increased domestic travel can replace the lack of international visits is a complete myth, as the average international tourist spends three times the average domestic tourist and, in the case of Chinese tourists, our largest market before Covid, you spend more than five and a half times, “Osmond said.

“The absence of this high-performing market, the continuing uncertainty around national borders, and the lack of confidence generated by constant border changes make it impossible for national tourism to compensate for the lack of international travelers.”

A city view of the Gold Coast skyline.
The Costa Dorada, with beaches and theme parks, was a great attraction for international tourists. (Supplied)

Osmond called on the government to establish a general set of rules for domestic travel to make inter-state vacation booking easier and more predictable.

“While health remains the number one priority in managing COVID-19 and TTF has continued to support the Government in its management of the pandemic, the prospect of no international travel in 2021 makes the domestic tourism market still more critical, “he said. said.

“A strong tourism sector is critical to the recovery of the national economy and the Government must support our industry over the next 12 months so that we can play our role in rebuilding Australia’s bottom line.

“On behalf of tour operators across the country, TTF urges the federal and state governments to work together with the industry and implement a simple set of uniform rules that allow Australians to travel domestically.”

Swim with sharks on the Eyre Peninsula
Diving with white sharks in South Australia is one of the main drivers of local tourism. (South Australian Tourism)

The 320,000 job loss forecast for September 21 is contingent on JobKeeper ending as currently scheduled on March 28, 2021. To avoid these losses, Osmond said some support is needed for tour operators and their staff. .

“We will also need more support in the form of something that looks, walks and talks like JobKeeper, even if it doesn’t bear this name, if we are to have any chance of surviving and then recovering,” Osmond said.

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