Interview with Leon Byner, 5AA Mornings
Leon Byner: Let’s talk to Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan. Dan, thanks for joining us today. Now, Flight Centre have come out already and says this is too meagre. What do you think?
Dan Tehan: Look, this is a, I think, a very well targeted package which will support the 660,000 jobs in the tourism sector and, also, as part of what was announced today, there is additional measures to support travel agents. Obviously, they’ve been very hard hit and, so, there’s another three-month extension of our travel agent support program, which will also help our travel agents. But, what the Federal Government is doing through this package is saying to all Australians, ‘please book a holiday’. There are discount flights available — over 800,000 discount flights available — travel and the money you save on your airfare, please spend it — go to a pub, go to a restaurant, or have a tourism experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And, that’s the best thing you can do to help and support the 660,000 jobs in our tourism sector.
Byner: Dan, I would have thought that given there is restricted international travel and people love to move around, I would have thought that that money that’s not being spent internationally would be an absolute given for local tourism. Isn’t that the way it’s working, or not so?
Tehan: It’s not working that way, Leon, because people haven’t had the confidence to travel, they’ve been worried about state border closures or economy-wide shutdowns. And, so, part of this is about giving people confidence to move again, with the vaccine now rolling out. What we want people doing is booking a flight, travelling interstate with the knowledge that those state border lockdowns will be used very much as a last resort and, if we can get people having the confidence to travel again, that’s the best thing we can do for our aviation sector and it’s the best thing that we can do for our tourism sector — and that’s what this package is all about.
Byner: I understand that the Prime Minister is going to announce a 50 per cent discount on domestic fares. And, we’re talking places like the Gold Coast, Cairns, Whitsundays, Alice Springs, Broome, KI and Merimbula. When does that start?
Tehan: So, that will start as of April. So, this is all about helping the aviation and tourism industry once JobKeeper concludes. So this, they will start in April, so what I would say to all your listeners is, ‘please, think about taking a holiday’. Make sure that when you do so, use one of these discount flights, and then make sure that you put money into the local economy. When we travel overseas, we spend far more significantly than what we do when we travel domestically and part of this package, part of the message we want to get out there, is spend in Australia like you spend overseas. Put your hand in your pockets and do that wonderful tourism experience that you might do overseas but we don’t tend to do here in Australia. That’s what we’re trying to encourage, because it’s not just about getting people travelling, it’s getting them spending like they otherwise would if they were overseas.
Byner: I notice that Restaurant & Catering Australia, they’re calling for what they’re saying is HospoKeeper, which will replace JobKeeper for six months from April. How do you feel about that?
Tehan: What we’ve made clear, as a Government, is that the JobKeeper will end at the end of March and what we want to do is start stimulating our economy to get it back to as near to normal as we possibly can. And, what that entails is making sure that a) we get people back to work, especially back to work in our capital cities, that we get people travelling again interstate, that we get business travel happening again, and another part of this package is trying to stimulate business events. That’s what will get people spending money in our pubs, in our restaurants, and get the economy going and really look after our restaurants, all those in the catering industry, all those who really make hospitality part and parcel of our great tourism offering here in Australia.
Byner: So, just to set the record straight here, your message to SA is?
Tehan: My message to SA is book a holiday, take that holiday and spend like you would when you’re overseas. If you do that, you’ll be supporting 660,000 jobs and you’ll be doing your patriotic duty.
Byner: Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan saying get out there and spend.
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