New figures laying bare Australia’s grim economic position have renewed calls for Tasmania to establish a travel bubble with other COVID-safe jurisdictions.
It was confirmed on Wednesday following two quarters of negative growth Australia is entering its first recession since 1991.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said Tasmania must avoid economic self-destruction by not prolonging self-isolation from the mainland any longer than was absolutely necessary.
“The horrific national economic figures, coupled with increasingly worrying results being released by some of Tasmania’s largest economic drivers and employers, is all pointing to a very bleak 12 months ahead,” Mr Martin said.
“History shows when the nation’s economy hit the skids, we cop the brunt soon thereafter.”
Mr Martin said Tasmania must restore some sense of normality in terms of its trade and visitor economies as soon as it was safe and practical to do so.
“This prevailing notion by some that Tasmania can continue to live in some self-supporting economic bubble is completely out of touch with the trade and visitation dependent nature of our local economy and businesses,” he said.
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“With international borders set to remain closed indefinitely, we are confident we can rebuild Tasmania’s visitor economy strongly and safely, with an expanding travel bubble with other COVID-safe states.
“Tourism will again be the engine room for the state economy when we will most need it but December 1 seems a very long way away today and you’ve got to wonder what kind of outlook we’re going to be facing by then.”
Bridestowe Lavender Estate owner Robert Ravens said he overwhelming supported establishing a travel bubble as soon as safely possible.
“There is a malaise in the state that can only be corrected by getting more people into the state and the quicker, the better,” Mr Ravens said.
Mr Ravens said Tasmania continuing in a self-supporting economic bubble was an unsustainable model.
But Seahorse World managing director Craig Hawkins said creating travel bubbles with safe states such as South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory was nearly pointless as much of Tasmania’s visitor market was the Eastern seaboard.
“If we don’t open the Eastern seaboard, and I’m not suggesting we do, I can’t see how the tourism sector in Tasmania would be an engine in driving recovery,” Mr Hawkins said.
He said if the borders were to remain closed some internal restrictions should be eased.
“Especially when JobKeeper is gone, it makes it uneconomic to have extra staff on,” he said.
Tall Timbers Hotel general manager John Dabner said he would like to see Tasmania’s borders reopen in a controlled way.
“A travel bubble with safe states or a safe country like New Zealand would be a great opportunity,” Mr Dabner said.
“My major concern is if we open a travel bubble in an unsafe way, we will have to go back into lockdown and there would be major ramifications for the industry, worse than what they are now.”
Mr Dabner said the tourism and hospitality sectors would assist with Tasmania’s economic recovery but they would not fix the state.