Out of all the industries that have taken a pandemic hit during COVID, the tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors have suffered the most.
In a bid to kick-start Australia’s struggling travel industry, the government has announced a support package to subsidise 800,000 half-priced flights to popular holiday spots across the country.
“This is our ticket to recovery – 800,000 half-price airfares to get Australians travelling and supporting tourism operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines who continue to do it tough through COVID-19, while our international borders remain closed,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.
When and Where?
The slashed airfares will go on sale from 1 April and travellers can choose to travel to a number of different holiday hotspots including South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, Cairns, Gold Coast, Proserpine and Hamilton Island, Tasmania, Alice Springs and Broome.
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“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard. That means more jobs and investment for the tourism and aviation sectors as Australia heads towards winning our fight against COVID-19 and the restrictions that have hurt so many businesses,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back. This package, combined with our vaccine rollout which is gathering pace, is part of our National Economic Recovery Plan and the bridge that will help get them back to normal trading.”
How To Book Your Half-Priced Flights
It sounds like it will be a pretty straightforward process to secure your half-price tickets to paradise. All you need to do to book a flight, is to visit the airline websites, including Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin, from 1 April until the end of July.
The eligible travel period is from 1 May to 30 September 2021.
The destinations on sale include:
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
- Alice Springs
- Kangaroo Island
Any airline that has been flying the nominated routes in the past two years will be eligible for the subsidy. This means that some smaller, regional airlines will also benefit.
Qantas said that this package will enable airlines to significantly increase the number of flights on offer.
“This package will allow us to put 21 extra flights every week into Cairns…we’ll be putting 35 extra return flights into the Gold Coast every week,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“To Ballina, we’ve already doubled the amount of capacity to pre-COVID levels, it’s full there.”
The airlines are expected to start advertising the flights over the next few weeks, once exact details of the package have been ironed out.
Don’t Shut The Borders!
Of course, the success of this scheme depends on state borders remaining open.
“We really need those premiers of course to keep the borders open… we need the premiers to play ball,” Mr McCormack said Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
When Will International Holidays Start Up Again?
While many Aussies are enjoying exploring our own backyard, many can’t wait to travel internationally for holidays and to visit relatives and friends. However, it looks like we’ve still got a few months to wait.
The government has indicated that the international border may re-open by the end of October, in agreement to Qantas’s prediction that overseas holidays will be back in October.
“We haven’t made any firm decision on these things but… that’s our hope and that’s our expectation,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“But I’ve learnt all through the pandemic, you don’t get too far ahead of yourselves.”
This latest support package comes as the JobKeeper wage subsidy finishes at the end of March.
Would you be keen to take advantage of a half-priced flight? Where would you go? Tell us in the comments below.