The federal government’s tourism support package has drawn an angry response from regions who have been left out of the $1.2 billion cut-price flights scheme, with one regional mayor calling it “alarming and short-sighted”.
Around 800,000 half-price tickets are being made available for interstate travel, targeting areas the federal government says are particularly dependent on aviation for tourism.
The announcement of the package comes ahead of the JobKeeper wage subsidy coming to an end later this month.
The government argues that program could not be kept running forever, but with more than 600,00 Australian jobs tied to the tourism industry, it was under pressure to provide more support.
Dubbo mayor, Ben Shields, says it’s unfair that four destinations in Queensland are included in the scheme, while Victoria and New South Wales have just two between them.
“The idea that we will just continue to leave the Dubbo regional airport sitting out there losing money without many flights here, while we are throwing money at these Queensland destinations is so unfair to western NSW,” he said.
“In fact, it is quite alarming how short-sighted this proposal is.
“There is still time to go back to the drawing board, get your crayons out and work out a better plan for tourism and the aviation industry for Australia.”
Victoria’s Tourism Minister Martin Pakula says he’s planning to write an angry letter to his federal counterpart to call for more areas to be included in the package.
Mr Pakula says Victoria and NSW are being short-changed, while the scheme encourages people from those states to travel elsewhere for their holidays.
“This is about the Commonwealth really treating Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide as nothing but cash cows for other parts of the country and that’s just not reasonable,” he said.
“The Commonwealth could say to Australians, there are 800,000 half-price flights available, they’re available to any part of the country.”