Business owner’s warning: ‘A cliff face is coming’
The owner of a Cairns adventure company which has already lost access to the JobKeeper subsidy has a worrying warning for the tourism industry when the scheme is terminated next week.
The looming end of the JobKeeper initiative on March 28 has many in tourism circles fearing an industry Armageddon amid predictions up to 25,000 Queenslanders in the sector alone could lose their jobs.
Roderic Rees, whose Cairns Adventure Group runs Foaming Fury and Raging Thunder rafting operations at Barron Gorge, has already felt the impact of losing JobKeeper after changed criteria made his workers ineligible at the beginning of the year.
With his workforce virtually halved, he had a blunt warning for others in the industry who were fearful of what might happen once JobKeeper winds up.
"There's a cliff face coming, make no mistake about it," he said.
"Get ready to start haemorrhaging money. All your subsidies and your safety nets are gone.
"I'm going to watch a lot of my friends' businesses go broke.
"Ending JobKeeper is signing a death warrant for our industry."
Mr Rees said he would try to hold on to as many staff as possible and was hopeful Easter would be more positive.
"It's a double-edged sword," he said.
"You need people so that when it gets busy again - which it eventually will - you are ready to go, but you can't tell all your staff to just sit around getting a couple of shifts a week when they might have other opportunities in other industries. We're already in a crisis and ending JobKeeper is only going to make it worse."
Mr Rees said measures targeted specifically at tourism, such as the state government's travel voucher scheme and the half-price flight initiative of the federal government, were a good start, but only the return of international travel would allow the industry to rebound effectively.
"About 90 per cent of our business was international," he said.
"The local market has been very good, but there's no amount of domestic tourism that's going to fill that hole.
"The moves that are delivering customers are fantastic, but it's a single-pronged approach. What we're screaming out for is a safety net for our employees."
Originally published as Business owner's warning: 'A cliff face is coming'