Travel operators to picket MP offices as industry continues to suffer from pandemic restrictions
Furious travel professionals have vowed to picket MP offices and demand more financial support to keep their businesses afloat.
The business owners say Australia’s travel industry is in tatters and eased restrictions on international arrivals won’t save it from ruin.
“Many travel businesses have already collapsed and so many more are at risk of going under with even more job losses,” said Dan Russell, general manager of Brisbane-based Clean Cruising.
“We face the loss of an entire generation of skilled travel professionals.”
Mr Russell and dozens of other business owners were planning a “day of action” on Tuesday, with demonstrations outside electorate offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, as well as regional towns.
There were plans to visit the offices of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
The business owners were also planning to go to the electorate offices of the NSW and Queensland Premiers, as well as state tourism ministers.
“The industry can’t continue without any support,” said Susan Haberle, founder of Melbourne travel businesses consultancy Inspire Collective.
Dennis Bunnik, chief executive of Bunnik Tours in Adelaide, said the travel industry was the “sacrificial lamb” of the pandemic response.
“We have been running on pretty much zero revenue, and government support for the past few months has been severely lacking,” he said.
Belle Goldie of itravel Penrith in Sydney said the lack of revenue made her worry whether she would be able to feed her children.
“I would rather go down fighting and speaking up than see my business, in which I’ve invested my family’s life savings, die slowly and silently on its knees,” she said.
The day of action comes as the Australian Federation of Travel Agents reiterates a call for a $150 million support package for agents, which the peak body said were involved in 70 per cent of international bookings.
Minister Greg Hunt at the weekend outlined a number of eased requirements for arrivals, which he said would help Australians return home.
The new rules will allow the use of rapid tests to monitor for Covid-19 on arrival, and will shorten the time someone has to wait before they can board a plane to Australia after an infection from 14 to seven days.
However, it remains unknown when tourists will be welcomed into the country again.
Australia’s decision to shut international borders at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic shut out nearly all visitors, and even in November last year trips were down 97.4 per cent compared with pre-Covid levels.
When they agreed on the national pandemic management plan, the leaders of the states, territories and Commonwealth didn’t set a timeline for when tourists would be welcomed back.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to questions about the timeline.
Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office said a ban on cruise ships would be in place until at least February 17.
Originally published as Travel operators to picket MP offices as industry continues to suffer from pandemic restrictions
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