Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) has called for immediate wage support for the industry which lost $10 million a day while Cairns was in lockdown.
TTNQ Chair Ken Chapman said the industry was on its knees with business down 85 per cent in the past few weeks and down 100 per cent this week.
“We had JobKeeper last year and we need something like that again. There are thousands of jobs on the line,” he said.
“When we come out of this we will still be locked out of our customers. New South Wales has the JobSaver wage program, and if it’s good enough for New South Wales then it’s good enough for Queensland.”
TTNQ Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said it was death by a thousand cuts after nearly 18 months of border closures and being excluded from the international market.
“Some 90 per cent of tourism businesses are small to medium enterprises and they are in a cash crisis. They require an immediate cash injection to survive,” he said.
“At the end of last week our tours and attractions were down to less than 9 per cent of their normal daily traffic, on the back of weeks of being locked out when they were down to a loss of $8.6 million a day.
“Now we are back to losing $10 million every day that we are not trading. This won’t come back immediately, it will take weeks for the Australian consumer to regain confidence to travel.
“The industry will come back because we have what the world is looking for, but we need strong businesses and highly skilled people to do that. Immediate wage support is needed to provide flexibility for employers to keep people connected to their business.
“We will also need aviation support packages again as more than 85 per cent of travellers to Cairns and Great Barrier Reef arrive by air.
“This is our peak season, it is the time when Cairns and Great Barrier Reef shines and we need immediate support for businesses to do that.
“Of the more than 2500 tours and attractions in the region in 2019, just over half have emerged from hibernation with half of those still operating part-time.
“We estimate 650 businesses are hanging by a thread and may not have the cash flow to recover from 18 months without normal trading.
“Wage support is essential to ensure the industry can resume trading when travel is once again allowed.”