NEWCASTLE TRAVEL AGENTS NEED A LIFELINE NOW, MR MORRISON
16 October 2020
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has called on the Morrison Government to provide a lifeline to Newcastle travel agents facing dire financial straits.
Ms Claydon said she held a roundtable with a number of Newcastle travel agents prior to the Federal Budget.
“Travel agents from across the city contacted me about the existential threat their businesses are facing in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions and shut downs,” Ms Claydon said.
“With planes grounded, borders closed for domestic and international travel and constantly changing travel restrictions, there’s almost zero money coming in.
“But travel agents are still working harder than ever sending money out the door as refunds to their clients. Even when travel returns, they won't be paid for their bookings for many months to come.
“To add insult to injury, the early reduction and contraction of JobKeeper will make it all the harder to hold on to staff.”
Ms Claydon said she also invited Shadow Minister for Tourism, Don Farrell, to the roundtable so that he could hear from Newcastle travel business owners directly.
“Those present at the roundtable were no novices. Indeed they were all highly skilled operators with more than two centuries of travel industry experience between them.
“Tragically, no amount of business nous could have protected them from the ravages of COVID-19. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories and it’s patently clear that they need more support.”
Ms Claydon said it was gravely disappointing to find there was nothing in the Federal Budget for the struggling sector.
“The pandemic isn’t affecting everyone equally. Some industries are doing okay while others, like travel, are getting absolutely smashed,” Ms Claydon said.
“If we are going to bounce back, it’s critically important that the government deliver targeted support to the industries that need it most.”
Ms Claydon said the Government needed to urgently work with industry to find a solution.
“The Prime Minister has spoken at length about the need for a business-led recovery from COVID-19. For this to happen, businesses in highly impacted industries must get the support they need to stay operational,” Ms Claydon said.
“We have thousands of travel professionals across the country whose businesses have ground to a halt virtually overnight. It's now critical for the government to work with the travel sector to devise a sustainable solution that will keep these important local businesses operating and their local staff in jobs.”