The federal government’s A$1.2 billion (US$93 million) tourism stimulus package has made Australia’s major domestic airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia happy, but much of the rest of the country’s tourism industry underwhelmed.
The Australian government is subsiding 800,00 domestic airline seats and has chosen 14 mostly regional locations for a 50% return flight discount. Five of the eligible destinations are in Queensland and three in Tasmania.
The discounted fares are available from 1 April to 31 July.
Accommodation Association of Australia CEO Dean Long said the nation's capital cities had been overlooked.
"For Sydney and Melbourne, where 80% of the market is from international and corporate markets, which are still not operating due to government restrictions, the lack of support in this package will result in a loss of jobs and slow our recovery once borders are open," he said.
The Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westway said there had been “a very strong over-reach to the regions”. "Our capital cities actually do drive Australia's visitor economy,” added Westway.
Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said the support package would not help his business because the airlines would sell the discount tickets directly.
Qantas said the scheme to stimulate domestic travel demand with 800,000 half-price airfares would get more of its planes back in the sky faster.