Tasmania's tourism sector struggles lead to greater federal funding pool

Tasmanian Liberal senator Jonathon Duniam - Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism - says Tasmania received a greater proportion of a tourism funding package because of the impact of border closures on the state. Picture: supplied
Tasmanian Liberal senator Jonathon Duniam - Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism - says Tasmania received a greater proportion of a tourism funding package because of the impact of border closures on the state. Picture: supplied

The devastating impact of border closures on Tasmania's tourism industry has led to the state receiving a far greater proportion of a federal funding package to help tourism operators recover.

Tasmania will receive about $13.5 million of the $50 million in the government's Regional Tourism Recovery Fund, to be announced in the upcoming federal budget.

The funding allocation was based on data from Austrade, which found Tasmania's tourism sector was suffering disproportionately compared with other states and territories.

It will be delivered in consultation with the state government, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania and regional tourism organisations and could be spent on attracting more flights from the mainland, events and helping operators to diversify without international guests.

TICT chief executive officer Luke Martin said it would be vital to get the funding delivered within weeks, using priorities identified in the government's T21 policy.

"With the $13.5 million out of $50 million, to me it's about strategically investing in those things that we know are going to work," he said.

"We need to really spend this money wisely. Again, it's not a huge amount in the scheme of things, but it can be spent really strategically and get it out the door in weeks or months."

The federal government also announced $100 million for tourism-related infrastructure, included in the $200 million Building Better Regions Fund. The funding would be delivered in partnership with government entities.

Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism Jonathon Duniam said the Austrade data laid bare the devastation caused to Tasmania's tourism industry.

"It just is a recognition of how important tourism is to this state," he said.

"That money will go towards job generation and creation, it will help tourism operators diversify and find ways to continue to trade while international borders remain closed.

"It's the kind of support that will deliver a quick impact so that we can actually make sure that when borders do reopen to our international visitors, we can have a tourism industry we're proud of that creates those thousands of jobs we need in regional communities."

More needed to keep tourism businesses operating: Labor

While pleased to see additional funding provided to Tasmania's tourism industry, Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White said the reduction in JobKeeper would set businesses back again.

"Particularly with tomorrow - the cessation of JobKeeper at its current rate and its current support level for a number of business - is going to mean it's going to be a particularly tough few weeks ahead," she said.

"The tough times aren't over yet, and despite the announcement of money for infrastructure and marketing campaigns today, it ignores the fact that we have to keep these businesses going.

"They need to survive in order to continue to provide the excellent products and experiences that Tasmania has become world renowned for."

About 43,000 people are employed in the Tasmanian tourism and hospitality sector. On the east coast, the sector accounts for about 60 per cent jobs.

This story Tassie tourism crunch leads to more federal funding first appeared on The Examiner.