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A lockdown in Sydney is a lockdown on our local tourism industry By Luke Gosling

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The Top End only has a population of about 150,000, so a lockdown in Sydney and Melbourne is effectively a lockdown on our tourism industry.

We’re heavily dependent on the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

Tourism in the Northern Territory is the fourth largest industry sector, and in 2018-19 employed 12 per cent of Territorians.

That’s a lot of people who’ve had their work hit hard over the past eighteen months, and the lockdowns this month in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide have been a further blow.

According to a survey run by Top End Tourism, a whopping 95 per cent of companies say interstate travel restrictions and border closures are significantly impacting their business.

And of the 125 businesses that have so far responded to the survey, they’ve so far lost $55 million in lost bookings.

Over half of businesses are worried or extremely worried about their business prospects over the next year.

The Top End’s tourism sector is seasonal, and many were counting on a big year of domestic travel to help cover some of their lockdown losses last year.

A lot of tourism businesses here rely on making about 70 per cent of their annual take in three or four months over the dry – but that is all now in limbo.

Small touring owner-operator companies have been hit hardest — they didn’t get the tourism voucher market because locals just went out and about in their own cars. They needed the flow of interstate and international clients for that.

And they didn’t get JobKeeper to help sustain their workforce, because they’re seasonal businesses that chiefly run from April until October, so didn’t qualify under the March payroll cut-off.

This is why I’ve been calling all along for JobKeeper to be retained beyond the end of March. We knew there would be more lockdowns and more economic pain for businesses and workers.

The Federal Coalition Government has finally brought in some form of payment for those under lockdown in Sydney and Melbourne – but they haven’t considered at all the knock-on effects of those lockdowns interstate, like in the Top End.

Australians have been plunged into uncertainty and disruption because of a leaky quarantine system and a slow vaccine rollout.Prime Minister Scott Morrison had two jobs this year: a speedy, effective rollout of the vaccine and quarantine. He has failed both.Australia has seen 27 leaks from hotel quarantine, numerous lockdowns, families separated from loved ones – and yet it’s still not clear what it will take to get Scott Morrison to step up and get the job done.This is a Prime Minister who refuses to take responsibility. He says it’s not a race.But it is a race. It’s a race to save lives, and it’s a race to save livelihoods. He needs to start acting like it.

Photo By: Pixabay 

 

 

Luke Gosling is the Federal Member for Solomon and a former Army Officer.

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