NSW tourism takes $3 billion hit over Christmas-New Year period

04 January 2021 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read

Australia’s tourism industry has suffered an unprecedented blow over the festive period. According to analysis by economic consultancy Stafford Strategy commissioned by the Tourism & Transport Forum, the market lost around $3 billion over the Christmas-New Year weeks.

The Australian tourist industry contributed a total of $60.8 billion in 2019 – more than 3% of GDP – including over $5 billion from Australians traveling within the country at Christmas. According to the report from the Tourism & Transport Forum, with various restrictions still in place on cross-state travel as Australia continues to try and keep the global coronavirus pandemic at bay, this has almost been halved compared to last year’s figures.

The forum commissioned economics consultancy Stafford Strategy to investigate the situation. The resulting report estimates that while Australians usually spend $5.5 billion on travel, accommodation and tourist activities between December 24 and January 11, this year the total bill will be $2.9 billion lower with many people unwilling or unable to travel because of a virus outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.

NSW tourism takes $3 billion hit over Christmas-New Year period

Businesses in New South Wales alone are collectively losing $125 million a day from border closures preventing interstate visitors. Meanwhile, Stafford Strategy’s estimates also suggest other states including Victoria are losing out on $172 million a day which New South Wales visitors would be spending on their own holidays.

The hit comes days before Australia’s JobKeeper wage subsidy payments are due to be cut to $1,000 a fortnight for full-time staff and $650 for part-timers – leading experts to suggest an employment crash in the sector is looming, unless action is taken by the government.

Tourism and Transport Forum Chief Executive Margy Osmond said, “Our industry more than any other is sensitive to the borders being closed and sensitive to the lack of confidence that this border closure process creates, plus we're in many instances a highly seasonal industry… It's kind of a double whammy – it not only is money not going to be spent but it's also the most sensitive time of the year for this to have happened… There is going to have to be some sort of longer-term support for our industry and there is going to have to be a version of JobKeeper.”

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals that the number of tourism jobs has fallen from its peak of 747,100 in December 2019 to 634,000 in the September quarter of 2020. This suggests the sector has been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, as it has shed around 15% of jobs compared with 5.3% across the wider economy.