Tourism leaders have been left dumbstruck after the industry was largely overlooked in last night's Budget.

A $1.2 billion aviation package unveiled months ago and an extension of support for struggling zoos and aquariums were the only major announcements for a tourism industry which had until the 11th hour been begging for a reincarnation of the JobKeeper program.

Some workers in the aviation sector will receive income support as part of a package announced in March and tourism leaders wanted a similar scheme to be introduced industry-wide.

But there was no pot of gold in the Budget, despite acknowledgments the struggling sector was likely to be hit even harder once international borders finally reopen.

The Budget papers predicted a mass exodus of Aussies heading overseas as soon as they are able would far outweigh the benefits of foreign visitors returning to our shores.

The pent-up demand for an overseas holiday will only increase with predictions in the Budget that international travel - outside the trans-Tasman bubble, could still be more than a year away.

"Spending from incoming tourists is expected to be more than offset by Australians spending more on overseas travel and less on domestic consumption," the papers revealed.

However, it was expected that this would be partly offset by the return of migrant workers and international students next year.

Tourism and Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond had yesterday repeated calls for a JobKeeper-style wage support program to help an estimated 220,000 tourism businesses and 71,000 workers under threat.

The end of JobKeeper in March sparked dire predictions that up to a quarter of Queensland's 40,000 tourism businesses would go broke by the end of the pandemic.

Data from Tourism Research Australia also revealed the coronavirus halved Queensland's $26b tourism industry in 2020.



But major policy announcements were absent from last night's address by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The 800,000 half-price flights scheme announced in March received a mixed response, with complaints it would largely help airlines and not necessarily smaller tourism traders.

Meanwhile, the $94.6 million Zoos and Aquariums program will be extended by six months to maintain animal populations where tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.


Originally published as Tourism industry left in limbo by Budget snub

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