Friday, 12 March 2021
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has today written to the Federal Tourism Minister demanding additional regional destinations in NSW be immediately added to the Commonwealth’s half-priced airfares scheme which was announced this week.
Mr Marshall said he was flabbergasted to find out only Merimbula on the State’s south coast had been included in the first round of reduced airfares, while Queensland had 5 locations for travellers to choose from.
“I’m not questioning the merit of this scheme, just the way destinations have been selected,” Mr Marshall said.
“Like a petulant child Queensland slammed its borders shut at the faintest whiff of COVID-19, ignoring national consensus on border closures and subsequently orchestrating the demise of its own tourism sector.
“It is mind boggling that Queensland should then be so heavily rewarded with this program, while NSW, which has done most of the heavy lifting during the pandemic in accepting and processing overseas arrivals and keeping its economy open, should only have one location included.
“Major local events like the Glen Innes Celtic Festival, Moree on a Plate, Armidale Autumn Festival, Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival have all been impact by travel restrictions, and yet there is not one reduced flight into this region.
“I think it’s important the Federal Government takes a deeper look at the areas which have been most affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions and consult with industry bodies like Destination NSW, instead of relying solely on data from airline companies.
“I have today expressed these views in a letter to Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan and called on him to immediately release the follow up list of locations.
“When these 800,000 tickets come on sale from April 1, New South Welshman must have the choice of visiting a great regional destination in their own State, instead of propping up one which has no care for the national interest,” Mr Marshall said.
Mr Marshall suggested a better solution to support tourism operators would be a scheme similar to the NSW Government’s ‘Dine and Discover’ vouchers.
“While reduced airfares are welcome, this is not a program which supports the entire Australian tourism supply chain,” he said.
“Travel agents have already raised concerns about how they won’t benefit, as most people will book their domestic flights at home themselves.
“I believe a voucher scheme which gives individuals the power to choose the tourism experiences they want to access, be it airfares, accommodation, transport or tours would be a much more equitable way to support jobs in the tourism sector as a whole.”