House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Questions without Notice


2:26 pm

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison-McCormack government is providing critical support to our tourism sector, and in particular to travel agents, as part of our economic comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Cowper for his question. I know the plight of our travel agents is something that he's been working very hard on. He's had representations from travel agents in New South Wales, Queensland and even the Northern Territory and Victoria, and he's met with the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. This is an issue he's been championing, and I commend him for that.

Travel agents have faced unique circumstances in having to refund existing bookings whilst having limited trade due to COVID-19. It has been a very, very difficult time for travel agents during COVID-19. It's why today, in consultation with the industry—very importantly in consultation with industry, and once again I commend the member for Cowper for the role he has played in that and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, for the consultation he's had with the industry—we announced a $128 million scheme to assist our travel agents.

Eligible travel agents with a turnover of between $50,000 and $20 million a year will be able to apply for a one-off payment. Payments will be scaled from $1,500 for businesses with a turnover of $50,000 up to $100,000 for a business with a turnover of $20 million. This will go a long way to support those travel agents that have been through a very, very difficult time, as I mentioned before. This is on top of our significant support for the tourism and travel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. That support included $50 million for the Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund to support nine regions heavily reliant on international tourism, $100 million for tourism infrastructure under a new round of the Building Better Regions Fund and a $50 million business events grant program.

Importantly, through Tourism Australia's latest domestic campaign we're asking Australians to talk to their local travel agent today for their next trip. They could inquire about going to visit those wonderful koala sculptures in the member for Cowper's electorate or they could think about coming down and seeing the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. That is another great place where people can go. The reason we're doing this is that there are 660,000 people employed in the tourism industry. We want to make sure that those jobs come back into the tourism industry because it's all part of our economic comeback approach, which is focused on jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.