Under the plan, the Government will subsidise half the cost of about 800,000 airline tickets to 13 destinations including Cairns, the Sunshine Coast, Proserpine, Hamilton Island and the Gold Coast from April 1.
The plan is likely to be a huge boost to Easter travel in Queensland, but there have also been some doubts and criticism about the scheme.
The discounts for Brisbane travellers will allow for half-fare flights to Alice Springs, Uluru and Launceston, but not to any of the Queensland destinations.
The package was cheered by the airlines who will also receive retention payments to keep their staff up until October when some international travel is expected to return.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package would take more tourists to the nation’s hotels and cafes, as well as 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.”
“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back.
“This package, combined with our vaccine roll-out which is gathering pace, is part of our National Economic Recovery Plan and the bridge that will help get them back to normal trading.”
The Government will also extend its cheap loans to the small to medium enterprise sector. Those businesses would now be able to borrow up to $5 million over a 10-year period with a 24-month interest payment holiday.
The threshold for companies to be eligible will also jump from $50 million in turnover to $250 million and the government guarantee 80 per cent of the loan which would give banks confidence.
The major thrust of the cheaper loans is to allow businesses to restructure their debt rather than just taking on new debt and the guarantee is expected to give banks more confidence. NAB has already said it would back the scheme.
Under the existing scheme, more than 35,000 loans worth more than $3 billion have already been provided. About 350,000 businesses would be eligible for the new scheme.
“As we move into the recovery phase, thes scheme will be targeted and tailored to support those businesses that have been relying on JobKeeper during the March quarter,’’ Morrison said.
“The SME Recovery Loan Scheme will benefit from an increased Government guarantee, increasing from the current 50/50 split between the Government and the banks to an 80/20 split.
“This will encourage more banks to support small businesses and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to back those businesses that are prepared to back themselves.’’
The discounted flight routes:
Gold Coast – Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Avalon
Cairns – Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin
Proserpine – Sydney
Hamilton Island – Sydney
Sunshine Coast – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide
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