The Australian government has announced that Australians will be able to purchase half-price flights to several domestic holiday destinations under a new scheme which aims to boost tourism in the country.
The government explained that the A$1.2bn ($930m) scheme aims to revive the local tourism sector which has suffered greatly from border closures and travel restrictions in place since early last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the package of 800,000 reduced airfares will be offered between April and July and will encourage locals to visit other parts of the country. The list of subsidised destinations includes places such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Alice Springs and Broome.
Mr Morrison highlighted that although the government’s “JobKeeper” wage subsidy scheme will finish at the end of the month, the tourism sector, which is usually reliant on international visitors, still requires support. “To keep people in their jobs, we’ve got to put planes in the air, and we’ve got to put tourists on the ground,” he told reporters at Sydney Airport on Thursday.
However, the Labour opposition has argued that the government’s package is “selective” and mainly benefits airlines, highlighting that there is no direct funding provided for tourism and hotel operators.