‘We are facing extinction’: Tourism, hotel sector calls for $900m in relief
Hotels across Sydney and Melbourne are facing closure with the sector calling on the federal government for a $900 million relief package to help save over 300,000 jobs as the coronavirus epidemic shuts down tourism.
In a statement to be sent to the Morrison government, signed by industry chief executives, it says hotels are operating at 10 per cent and below in occupancy rates and need reforms to the Fair Work Act to protect jobs.
The federal government is expected to build on the assistance it announced in its initial stimulus package for the tourism and hotel sector but it will be much broader because of the threat to the overall economy.
"Our sectors have now collectively experienced the economic double impact of bushfires and Covid19. In March 2020 our sectors are beyond pain, we are facing extinction," the statement to the government says.
"Current economic modelling shows that over the course of this year we will likely see over 300,000 job losses in the sector. For example, within the accommodation sector, hotels are facing occupancies of 10 per cent or less across the country, and will have no other recourse but to close.
"The harsh reality is that there is no longer any demand and therefore no work for most of our industry."
The chief executive of Mulpha Australia, Greg Shaw, said his group had "not made any firm decision" but said with hotels across the sector looking at forward bookings, "it's a grim picture".
"It is hard to see, by looking at forward bookings of the next four-six weeks, how some hotels can keep operating," he said.
The sector which is reeling from bushfires employs 650,000 people, and is facing the impact of border closures due to the coronavirus.
Included in the plea to the government is 50 per cent of all PAYG receipts for the year must be tax free: which would cost $700 million; "sensible reforms to the Fair Work Act to enable employers to effectively stand down employees at minimal cost to businesses as circumstances change".
There is also a call for $200 million in support for loan deferrals and a further $100 million for major utilities relief.
Gus Moors, the head of hotels Colliers International supported the calls for reforms to the act to protect jobs.
"I add my voice to the calls for reform in the award structure. Qantas has done it and the hotel and tourism sector would benefit greatly to ensure we can grab back our highly-trained workforce when things get back to normal," Mr Moors said.
The email was signed by Margy Osmond, the head of the Tourism and Transport Forum, and the chief executives of the Tourism Accommodation Association, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, the Accommodation Association, Cruise Lines Australasia and the Restaurant and Catering Association.
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