Talking Tourism

Issue 602, April 3, 2020


Welcome to this week’s edition of Talking Tourism newsletter.

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A message from all of us at Tourism WA

This week has again seen swift responses by both State and Federal governments in rolling out new measures to protect people’s health. This has been done while simultaneously introducing relief packages to support households, keep people in jobs and attempt to shield our economy, as much as possible, from the fallout of COVID-19.


With so much going on, it can be overwhelming to work out a way forward. At Tourism WA, we want to help our industry survive this crisis. The Industry Support Team, established in collaboration with our valued partners, is a new initiative offering personal, targeted support and information from people who know tourism.


Our Managing Director, Brodie Carr, has more information on how this new team will work in his latest video and there are more details in the story below.


Industry Support Team launches

The State Government, through Tourism WA and in collaboration with industry partners, is pleased to announce the formation of a new Tourism Industry Support Team. From Monday (April 6), the support team will call thousands of WA tourism operators to check how people are coping, help them navigate the various stimulus packages, and offer a friendly voice to talk through recovery ideas, for when the time is right. The team, including Tourism WA’s stakeholder relations, famils/public relations, markets and destination development teams, will start work next week but those who need to talk to someone urgently are encouraged to email Tourism WA and someone will phone you back. More information about the initiative is available in this video from Tourism WA Managing Director Brodie Carr. Read more in the Tourism Minister’s media statement.


JobKeeper payment

The Australian Government’s JobKeeper payment helps businesses affected by the coronavirus cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so that more employees can keep their job and continue to earn an income. Under the JobKeeper program, businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from March 30, 2020, for a maximum of six months. This will also assist employers to reactivate their business quickly, without having to re-hire staff, once the crisis is over. Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (of at least a month), and if the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. Check the fact sheets on the Australian Government Treasury website for more information and detailed eligibility requirements.


Relief package targets small and medium-sized businesses

The State Government’s latest relief package, announced on Tuesday, contains targeted funding for small and medium-sized businesses, with $502 million allocated to provide assistance in the following areas:

Electricity – a one-off $2,500 credit for Synergy and Horizon Power customers that consume less than 50 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum. The credit is available for current customers (as of March 31, 2020) and will be allocated from May 1, 2020.

Payroll tax – will be waived for a four-month period between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 for businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5 million in 2019-20.

Licence fees – a range of licence fees in impacted industries will be waived for the next 12 months, including licences for tourism businesses operating in national and marine parks and boat registration and mooring fees for tourism operators. Liquor licence renewal fees for 2020 will also be waived and refunds provided for businesses that have already paid.

Payments waived – businesses can apply for an interest-free payment arrangement and for late payment penalties to be waived for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax.

Power and water – Small businesses will not have their power or water disconnected due to late payments, and no interest will be charged on deferred bill payments. For electricity, this will apply to Synergy and Horizon Power customers who consume 50MWh or less.

Read more in the Premier’s media statement.


Travel restrictions update

Yesterday the State Government announced it will close Western Australia’s borders from midnight, or 11:59pm on Sunday, 5 April 2020, to isolate the State from the rest of Australia and further protect West Australians from the COVID-19 pandemic. Exemptions are currently being finalised, but will include: health services; emergency service workers; transport, freight and logistics; specialist skills, not available in WA; national or State security and governance; and courts and judicial services. Exemptions will also apply to FIFO workers and their families but they will have to comply with the 14-day self-isolation measures when they enter the State. Read more hereStronger restrictions have also been put in place to protect Kimberley residents. The announcement follows regional travel restrictions introduced earlier this week which prohibit West Australians from leaving regional boundaries aligned with those of the Regional Development Commission. Additional restrictions apply to remote Aboriginal communities. Read more and view the regional boundaries here.


Grant support for events

The State Government, through Lotterywest, has set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund with funding support for not-for-profit arts, sports and community organisations experiencing financial hardship as a result of cancelled events (Event Cancellation Relief for Arts, Sports and Community Groups). The funding will compensate for cancellation costs, lost revenue and incurred or committed operational costs associated with cancelled events.  Support will also be made available to eligible organisations to continue to provide support services and activities that benefit the WA community during the pandemic (Resilient Arts, Sports, Events and Community Groups). For organisations that have an approved grant or an application under assessment, Lotterywest is encouraging people to get in touch to explore their options. Read more here.


Relief for Regional Express air services

Regional Express (Rex) air services has been given funding by the State Government to secure regional air routes from Perth to Albany, Esperance and Carnarvon-Monkey Mia. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen airlines, particularly those small regional operators, forced to reduce services and capacity. This funding will allow workers, including those in health and emergency sectors, to continue to reach regional areas. The funding will be reviewed after three months with the possibility of extension. Under the new service levels, Rex will operate four return services per week from Perth to Albany and Esperance and two per week to Carnarvon-Monkey Mia. Visit the Rex website for full flight schedules. Read more about the funding support in the Minister for Transport’s media statement.


Advice and information on hand for small businesses

The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is providing practical information and guidance to help small businesses in the WA tourism industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Owners can get information by:

• visiting the dedicated SBDC website page and following the blog for regular updates.

• calling 133 140 or emailing to get confidential advice from an experienced business adviser.

• joining the Facebook group 'I'm a small business owner in Western Australia' to access support and advice from more than 8,000 local small business owners

• registering for a free webinar covering key business topics to cope with disruption

• accessing regional WA support through the SBDC’s Business Local service.


Takeaway for WA

A new social initiative from IMG Culinary and Western Australia Gourmet Escape is encouraging West Australians to support WA’s struggling hospitality businesses. #TakeawayForWA is a social initiative encouraging people to share a photo of a takeaway meal (purchased from a venue or available to customers) across social media, tag the restaurant it was ordered from, or is available at, hashtag #TakeawayForWA and encourage others to do the same. Restaurants, bars, pubs and other venues can also use the hashtag when showing off the takeaway options they have on offer. Venues can also contact Western Australia Gourmet Escape to be included on a list of Western Australian restaurants, cafes and wineries offering takeaway and delivery options on the Gourmet Escape website.


Coronavirus Australia app

The Australian Federal Government has launched a new Coronavirus Australia app to provide up-to-date, trusted advice on COVID-19 from the Commonwealth. It includes advice on hygiene, symptoms, public gatherings and the latest news and announcements from the Federal Government. Search ‘Coronavirus Australia’ in the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android to download it for free. You can also stay up to date via WhatsApp to get #COVID19 information from the official Australian Government chatbot. Message +61 400 253 787 or click here.


PM to join tourism webinar

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will join Tourism Australia’s second industry webinar this Friday. The weekly webinars, the first held last week, keep industry connected and informed, and help businesses navigate through the current crisis. More than 2,000 people tuned in to the first webinar last week. The second webinar will be held tomorrow from 2pm to 3pm, with the Prime Minister, as well as Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia representatives joining the call to directly update the tourism sector. Register for future webinars here. Due to a high volume of questions, guests are asked to submit their questions in advance when they register and will also be able to send in other questions on the day.


Temporary licensing changes

The State Government has introduced new six-month occasional liquor licenses to allow certain restaurants, small bars, taverns and other outlets with existing liquor licences the ability to sell small amounts of packaged alcohol with a takeaway meal. Local wine producers will also be allowed to sell up to 9L of wine per customer, per week via cellar-door sales. A simplified application form for an occasional liquor licence is available on the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries' website. The application fee will also be waived. More information, including contact details for further enquiries can be found in this Minister’s media release.


Changes to bankruptcy laws

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has recently made changes to the Commonwealth bankruptcy law to provide immediate relief to people facing financial difficulty due to the impacts of COVID-19. The AFSA manages the application of bankruptcy and personal property securities laws through the delivery of personal insolvency and trustee, regulation and enforcement, and personal property securities services. Visit the AFSA website for information on temporary debt relief, temporary debt protection, changes to bankruptcy notices and impacts to people who are currently bankrupt as well as the contact details for the National Service Centre.


Limits on public gatherings

The State Government has now introduced Stage Three Restrictions, limiting both indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings to two persons only. Exemptions to this limit include: people of the same household going out together; funerals – a maximum of 10 people; and weddings – a maximum of five people. The State Government has also banned the use of playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment in public places. An enforcement squad of more than 200 police officers will ensure compliance with quarantine and gathering requirements and to maintain community safety during the State of Emergency. Read more here.


COVID Hotline and FAQ's

The State Government has established a hotline to help answer questions West Australians have on the current COVID-19 State of Emergency. The hotline number is 13 26 842 (or 13COVID) and is already up and running, operating from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week. The hotline includes a range of options for callers, including pre-recorded information and direction to appropriate websites or call centres for specific information.


Tourism Western Australia also has a dedicated coronavirus webpage and FAQ document that is regularly updated with relevant industry information, contact numbers and links.


Digital content

Our digital content team wants to hear from you and keep across what you are now doing differently. Please continue to use the #thisiswa hashtag and @mention Western Australia on social media as you usually do.


Take heart

We’re introducing this new section in Talking Tourism to give the people in our industry a ray of light among the darkness, with snippets of good news.


Feel free to email any other feel-good industry news our way, and we’ll try to include as many as possible in coming editions.


Friday Fizz

Missing your tourism mates? The WA tourism community is a close-knit network of hard-working, passionate people who like to get together regularly, share stories and socialise. With this in mind, on Fridays (for the foreseeable future) tourism operators now have an opportunity to get together online to remind each other that we're all in this together. In these uncertain times, there's no better time to come together and show support for one another. Places are limited, so get in quick to secure your spot by registering here.


Mixing it up

Wise Winery is switching production to make much-needed hand sanitiser, with the ethanol usually used to produce its spirit range. The ethanol is distilled on the Wise property from the winery’s own chardonnay. Way to be innovative, Wise!



Online innovation

Busselton Jetty is introducing virtual underwater observatory tours and education tutorials, facilitated through a new website called Virtually Australia. The virtual tours allow WA tourism operators to continue connecting with their key markets, as well as maintain revenue throughout this difficult time.


Gold medal campaigns

Tourism WA’s PR team in the UK has been kicking goals too. Last month the team collected a number of prestigious industry awards for campaigns it had worked on over the past year, including a gold medal for its Monty Halls in Western Australia campaign – a strategic digital marketing campaign with Singapore Airlines to promote road trips in the state – and for its social media campaign on Freckles the Manta Ray.


Safe and productive

Waringarri Aboriginal Arts in Australia’s North West has shifted operations to three outstation communities to keep artists and their families safe. Here, they will spend time creating new artworks for their web shop, training, planning and teaching culture to young artists.