Wage plan key for FNQ tourism industry survival

A LIFELINE from the JobKeeper payments scheme has been flagged as key to retaining specialist tourism workers with the coronavirus shutdown expected to cost the Far North industry $2.5 billion this year.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement of the $1500 fortnightly payments, which have been considered essential for businesses needing to retain staff while not permitted to trade.

 

Master Reef Guide and marine biologist Alessandra Giannascoli takes visitors on a tour of the thriving underwater life at Normanby Islands. PICTURE: CHRIS CALCINO
Master Reef Guide and marine biologist Alessandra Giannascoli takes visitors on a tour of the thriving underwater life at Normanby Islands. PICTURE: CHRIS CALCINO

TTNQ chief executive officer Mark Olsen said in three weeks there had been more than $200 million in cancellations and lost visitor expenditure and more than 2650 jobs had already been lost.

"This announcement will allow businesses to pay critical staff such as wildlife keepers, housekeepers and maintenance staff who need to remain in their roles while the business is closed," he said.

"It will support many businesses in the retail and hospitality sector including accommodation, cafes operating a takeaway menu, and small retailers to retain some staff so they can continue to operate."

 

Press conference, last week, with TTNQ Chair Wendy Morris and CEO Mark Olsen where the impact of the COVID-19 crisis was discussed. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Press conference, last week, with TTNQ Chair Wendy Morris and CEO Mark Olsen where the impact of the COVID-19 crisis was discussed. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

Mr Olsen said an accelerated Far North Queensland recovery on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis depended on retaining marine skippers and engineers, Master Reef Guides and savannah guides.

"With the tourism industry shutting down we faced the prospect of losing skilled workers which would create yet another problem if we enter the recovery phase without the key staff needed for the industry to succeed," he said.

 

Quicksilver Group marine biologist and Master Reef Guide Samatha Gray. TTNQ said the retaining of Master Reef Guides was key to the FNQ tourism industry bouncing back from the COVID-19 crisis.
Quicksilver Group marine biologist and Master Reef Guide Samatha Gray. TTNQ said the retaining of Master Reef Guides was key to the FNQ tourism industry bouncing back from the COVID-19 crisis.

"The destination's recovery will be strengthened if these teams are in place with strategies ready to entice people to travel again."

By December this year it's estimated the region would have lost an estimated $2.5 billion in visitor spend which could have supported 11,000 full-time jobs.

Mr Olsen said an industry ready to resume six months after the COVID-19 crisis could mean a $500 million boost and support for 2500 jobs.

 

 

HOW IT WORKS

 

THE JobKeeper program will be delivered through the Australian Taxation Office, in a move to simplify payments and avoid further chaos at Centrelink offices.

Businesses severely affected by the coronavirus crisis can already register their interest in accessing the subsidies, available for full-time and part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been in the same job for at least a year.

 

Originally published as Wage plan key for FNQ tourism industry survival