The latest international travel figures show a potentially catastrophic outcome for Australia’s tourism industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, the Australian travel industry contributed $60.8 billion to the national GDP and provided jobs for more than five per cent of the national workforce – around 666,000 people.

According to data published by Statista, the Australian travel and tourism industry could face job losses of around 400,000.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics research shows a 12.5 per cent decrease in short-term overseas arrivals for February, as Australia’s tourism sector feels the impact of widespread travel bans.

In a statement released today, Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) Executive Director Simon Westaway said, despite the challenges, travel restrictions would remain essential to controlling the spread of coronavirus.

“For the tens of thousands of Australian tourism enterprises where the international market has been their core business these are clearly stark and unbelievably challenging times,” Mr Westaway said.

“Without effective management and control of COVID-19 across Australia and closing our international borders to overseas visitors has been a key part of this response, we will never be able to effectively turn the corner and see the hoped-for green shoots of recovery.”

ATIC called on the Australian government and state tourism organisations to refocus attention on repurposing Australia’s domestic tourism market once local travel bans are lifted.

Mr Westaway said the government should “have its primary focus around a more resilient future recovering the domestic tourism industry. We are after all unlikely to see any loosening of a hard-closed international travel border for some time.”

Travel and tourism direct contribution to gdp by UOWTV Multimedia