Domestic tourism and aviation support a welcome boost, but travel retailers miss out again
Thursday 11 March 2021
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s $1.2 billion support package for the tourism and aviation industry but says the focus will only boost those in the domestic market and travel retailers once again will miss out, meaning job losses are now inevitable in the sector post JobKeeper.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said travel retailers, including those in international airport terminals or duty free stores, won’t benefit from the support package and have no choice but to shed thousands of jobs.
“It’s good to see focused support for the tourism and aviation industry locally, and the flow on effects that will have for some retailers – but this overlooks support for businesses severely impacted by international border closures,” Mr Zahra said.
“Retailers like duty free shops in international airport terminals are in crisis – some have lost 90% of their revenue since the pandemic started and they can’t afford to hang on for much longer.
“While the Federal Government has hinted at additional support measures in the May Budget, that’s just too far away for these companies who are making decisions about job shedding this month. These businesses need additional support now. Thousands of jobs will go between now and then.
“Cheap loans will be offered to small and medium businesses, however for those with no income, this just adds to their mounting debt burden. While it might cover wages and business costs in the short term, it doesn’t address the long-term challenges, income shortfalls or the mental health challenges that accompany business owners and their specialist teams.
“There are sections of retail which contribute billions of dollars to our economy that are still struggling and desperately need targeted support. Travel retailers and CBD retailers, most of which are SMBs, face an uncertain future when JobKeeper ends in a couple of weeks.
“This really is a case where a stitch in time saves nine. We cannot afford to leave people and businesses behind in Australia’s economic recovery.”