A $1 billion boost in regional tourism in June is a reminder of the potential for the industry if border restrictions are loosened, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says.
As the Tourism Research Australia figures were released, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Senator Birmingham unveiled a $50 million plan to kickstart the business events sector hit hard by the pandemic.
It is estimated 95 per cent of business events for 2020 have either been cancelled or postponed.
Under the Business Events Exhibitor Grants program, businesses exhibiting at an approved business event in 2021 will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs.
The TRA reported there were more than 5.4 million domestic visitors in the month of June, an increase of more than 2.35 million visitors on May, with most of these travelling intrastate to regional locations.
Senator Birmingham said while the data showed the lifting of some restrictions had led to an uptick in tourism activity in intrastate travel, many tourism businesses, particularly those in larger cities and those popular with international or interstate visitors, were still doing it tough.
“This data demonstrates that Australians are willing and eager to travel where it’s safe to do so, which is a reminder that excessive border restrictions are limiting the jobs recovery in some communities and businesses,” he said.
The minister urged state and territory leaders to consider adopting a nationally consistent hotspot approach to the movement of Australians, as discussed at last week’s national cabinet meeting.
Spending in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth rose from $155 million in April to $410 million in June.
Regional areas – including all of SA, Tasmania, the NT and ACT – benefited to the tune of $1.73 billion, up from $511 million in April and $796 million in May.
Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 51 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths on Thursday, pushing the national toll to 788.
However, there was growing optimism for an easing of restrictions in regional Victoria where no new infections were recorded and its daily average across a fortnight sat at 4.5 cases.
Seven new cases were reported in NSW.
While Queensland recorded no cases, a furore continues over a young woman being banned from leaving quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.
Canberra resident Sarah Caisip was permitted by health authorities to view her father Bernard’s body.
However, Mr Morrison took aim at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for not intervening in the “heartbreaking case”.
Ms Palaszczuk described the prime minister’s response as “bullying” and “intimidation”.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said funerals were “very risky environments” for the spread of coronavirus and it was important the 14-day quarantine rule for people travelling from interstate to attend them was adhered to.