Australia’s alpine regions are threatened by 20,000 job losses if the government fails to provide adequate financial support for the snow industry.
The industry, which contributes $2 billion to Australia’s economy, has missed two whole seasons of trade as a result of COVD lockdowns and restrictions, which was on the back of the bushfires that devastated the summer tourism season in 2019/2020.
The National Retail Association (NRA) and Snowsports Industries of Australia (SIA) have serious concerns about the industry’s ability to bounce back once lockdowns ease.
NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb is urging the government to intervene and address the unique challenges of the alpine region.
“While other businesses will adjust to being “COVID normal”, snow and alpine-region businesses will need to hold on for at least another six months until their season begins again,” Ms Lamb said.
“The financial and emotional toll on business owners and employees has been immense and many are now on the brink of collapse,” she continued.
SIA Executive Officer Lloyd Green says off- season trade opportunities have also been compromised with the closure of international borders.
“We can’t cater for travellers heading on northern hemisphere snow adventures because international borders are expected to remain closed, so this revenue will also be unavailable for a second year running,” Mr Green said.
“The seasonal nature of our industry and reliance on inbound and outbound tourism means we’re faced with far more dire implications than other areas of the retail industry,” he said.
The NRA and SIA urgently request specific, combined government support to help struggling businesses survive until their next season in May 2022. They call on the Federal, New South Wales and Victorian governments to consider imploring the following:
- In Victoria, the removal of the eligibility criteria clause 1.1 (a) of the Alpine Resorts Winter Support Program which would create an immediate extension of this program to cover ALL Victorian off-mountain snow retailers and wholesalers, noting that irrespective of the location of these operators all contribute to the regional Victorian Snow Industry and as such should be considered recipients to the support scope provided;
- In NSW, the development of an Alpine Resorts Winter Support Package along the lines of the Victorian program as a framework to support the Snowsports industry in the Snowy Mountains and across NSW. Currently there is no such plan in NSW for this very important industry.
- An immediate undertaking, as per the National Cabinet plan, that international borders will be opened upon the 80 per cent target being reached to allow inbound and outbound travel to approved destinations such as Japan, Canada, North America and Europe, which will assist city-based retailers commence some type of business trade by December 2021; and
- Urgent talks with the NRA and SIA to establish a joint State and Federal Government grant package similar to the Tourism Aviation Network Support Program, targeted to the snow industry. Such targeted support would acknowledge the unique seasonal nature of the industry and the challenges snow and alpine businesses will face until May 2022. This must cover all aspects of the industry.