Respected economic commentator Alan Kohler has slammed the Federal Government for its short-sighted fiscal abuse of tourism businesses on two fronts – first by shutting the industry down and then not providing any targetted support.

“The Federal Government began shutting down Australia’s tourism industry on February 1, when it banned the entry of people from China, but that was not accompanied by any financial help for the businesses or workers affected,” Kohler wrote in the Weekend Australian.

“It took 41 days for the first, inadequate, fiscal package of $17.6bn to be put together and announced, and it was just general stimulus, with nothing for tourism.

“Just let that sink in: the government closed an entire industry and then waited six weeks to help those affected by the decision, and when it came, the assistance was untargeted and miserly.

“Targeted support for those affected by the business closures should have been announced simultaneously with the closures and it should have been unlimited.

“It is a disgrace this wasn’t done, that so many lives have been devastated while others have sailed on unaffected because  their employer doesn’t happen to rely on travel or crowds mingling together to make money.”

Chief executive of Tourism and Transport Forum Australia, Margy Osmond, recently told the ABC that the industry is losing almost $10bn a month because of  COVID-19 travel restrictions and that up to 400,000 jobs could ultimately be lost.

“Looking at the latest figures, it tells us [lost income] is something like $9.6 billion a month,” she said. “Of the 660,000 direct jobs in the industry, we may lose well over 400,000 of them.”

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