National

Tourism taskforce wants visitors back

By AAP Newswire

Tourism groups and businesses have pooled their ideas to reopen Australia and welcome visitors back following the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The Tourism Restart Taskforce - formed through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry - has launched a restart plan to reignite tourism across the country.

The chamber's chair for tourism John Hart said the group was formed to provide expert advice to the federal government.

"What we need right now is a clear timetable for the Morrison government in order to restore hope to the tourism sector," Mr Hart said in a statement on Saturday.

"Tourism businesses need lead time to prepare - they can't open their doors in 24 hours and start trading."

Among the taskforce's recommendations is a timetable beyond national cabinet's Step 3 of easing restrictions for tourism, hospitality and events, and making clear the conditions that will enable each step to be taken.

Once set, it says there should be no going back on easing restrictions unless serious and transparent health benchmarks are compromised.

It wants all of Australia's state and territory borders open and the establishment of a trans-Tasman bubble this month.

Other recommendations call for the JobKeeper wage subsidy or a similar support scheme for tourism and hospitality businesses, which are still impacted by government restrictions or have been completely closed down by the crisis.

"This plan provides a runway back to operations for the industries that comprise Australia's largest services export and the creator of one in 13 jobs in the Australian economy," Chair of the Tourism Restart Taskforce Jeremy Johnson said.

Bus Industry Confederation executive director Michael Apps anticipates it will still take another 12 to 18 months before the industry is able to transition out of the crisis into recovery.

"Since COVID-19 started and travel restrictions and border closures were announced, we've seen most coach operators have no choice but to be either deregistered or permanently parked and most staff laid off or on JobKeeper," Mr Apps said in a statement.

"We need government to step up and do more to protect our industry and the people we support."