The federal government will fund 800,000 half-price domestic flights in an effort to boost the local tourism industry

  • Airlines will offer 800,000 cut-price tickets to tourism hotspots from April, thanks to the Federal Government’s new, $1.2 billion industry support package.
  • Some 13 destinations across the map will be targeted, with Tourism Minister Dan Tehan saying further locations could be added.
  • The new support measure falls below what some industry figures had called for, with Tourism and Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond fearing a “grim” situation when JobKeeper tails off.
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Australian travellers will soon be offered half-price domestic flights to struggling tourism hotspots, thanks to a new $1.2 billion Federal Government industry support package.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports airlines will offer some 800,000 discounted tickets from April 1, with the goal of pumping local tourism dollars into regions the government says have been worn down by a year of international border closures.

The earmarked locations include the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland; Merimbula, in NSW; Avalon, in Victoria; Broome, in WA; Launceston, Devonport, and Burnie, in Tasmania; the Lasseter region, which covers Uluru, and Alice Springs, in the NT; and SA’s Kangaroo Island.

Some commentators have pointed those flights will largely favour marginal electorates, or regions the Coalition could be expected to win in the next federal election.

But speaking to 2GB host Ben Fordham Thursday morning, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan insisted further locations could be added to the list, pending government approval.

“We will continue to upgrade these destinations, working with the airlines to make sure the capacity continues to be added,” Tehan said.

The discounted tickets will remain on offer until July.

The cut-price flights form one part of the government’s long-awaited tourism industry support package.

Airlines like Qantas and Virgin will also receive government payments to keep some 8,600 employees in a job before the tentative resumption of international travel late this year.

Hard-hit small and medium businesses linked to the tourism industry will also be weaned off JobKeeper, which expires at the end of this month, with loans of up to $5 million.

While cheap flights will be warmly welcomed by restless travellers, the support package appears to fall well below what industry figures and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have called for.

Peak travel industry group the Tourism and Transport Forum had called for a $7.7 billion cash injection to the sector.

Speaking to “Today” after the tourism industry package was revealed, CEO Margy Osmond feared a “grim story going to unfold in the tourism industry” when JobKeeper ends in March.

Earlier, Palaszczuk repeatedly called on the Federal Government to extend the JobKeeper subsidy, saying, “I don’t think you can put a price on the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Queenslanders” whose livelihoods rely on tourism dollars.