Sector braces for economic black hole ahead of subsidy end
TOURISM leaders have warned whatever takes the place of JobKeeper when the axe falls next month may not be enough to prop up struggling businesses.
It has been suggested tax breaks could form part of a support package however the federal government has remained tight lipped about exactly what will be rolled out after March 28.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Mark Olsen said cost reductions such as tax relief would be useful.
"But I'm not sure if that is going to close the gap (based) on the revenue we are losing," he said.
"It's a really difficult one for a region like ours, you grow business slowly and you can lose traction really easily, you take the stairs up and the elevator down."
Modelling by the International Air Transport Association predicts it won't be until 2025 until Cairns welcomes pre-COVID arrival numbers.
"It's quite obvious for Australia it could be a really slow recovery," he said.
"There needs to be some kind of targeted support to keep people connected to business.
"(But) for us there is no real replacement for a wage subsidy."
Quicksilver Group managing director Tony Baker after making the tough call to slash jobs earlier this month was optimistic more positions would not go when JobKeeper ends.
"It will impact everyone, there is a few thousand people still receiving JobKeeper," he said.
"We are certainly hopeful that we have done what we need to do and are hopeful we won't need to make further changes (to staffing).
"But having said that the period from the end of the Easter school holidays to the start of the July school holidays is usually a very quiet time for the domestic market."
The Quicksilver boss said there has been discussions about continuing wage support but border certainty and marketing the Far North to southern holiday-makers was a way to keep the cash registers ticking over in the absence of the subsidy.
"We are hopeful that we have a bigger Easter period and that confidence will improve for people to take holidays," he said.
NERVOUS TIMES FOR HOSPITALITY STAFF
HEIGHTENED anxiety amid Cairns hospitality staff has been an uncomfortable reality ahead of JobKeeper winding up.
Rattle n Hum venue manager Sean De Costa said an end to the federal government lifeline while social distancing and contact tracing logs continued to be enforced would force cuts to other areas of the Cairns Esplanade business.
He said while efforts would be made to ensure staff would not be stood down, no promises had been made about cuts to hours.
"We need to minimise or see where we can cut costs elsewhere to make sure we are still compliant," he said.
"The fear is that people will be working less, but we are in a lucky position that we don't have that many full-time staff on.
"No one is going to be stood down, but the thing that will be preying on their minds is hours being cut back quite a bit to make sure the business can still trade."
Originally published as Sector braces for economic black hole ahead of subsidy end