Tasmanian businesses are being urged to prepare for the end of JobKeeper from March as the federal government remains committed to rolling back the scheme.
But the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania is hopeful the state and federal governments will instead provide targeted support for struggling sectors as the COVID downturn continues, such as tax incentives for domestic travel and national travel voucher schemes.
On Sunday morning, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg reiterated the government's intention to end JobKeeper, believing consumer and business confidence was "back to pre-pandemic levels".
TICT chief executive officer Luke Martin said it was clear that businesses would need to prepare for the end of the wage subsidy scheme in March.
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"If you have staff on JobKeeper, you must use the next few weeks to make big decisions about what your business will look like post-March," he said.
"The federal government has been very consistent on this for a long time. If any businesses are banking on it continuing, they need to reset their expectations."
Parts of the tourism sector most reliant on international travel - such as tour companies, conference and convention centres and those geared towards business travel - are continuing to struggle, according to Mr Martin.
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COVID outbreaks in NSW and Victoria also hampered the recovery of the Tasmanian tourism industry, which had been relying on a bumper summer holidays period.
Mr Martin said there would be opportunities towards the end of 2021, and Tasmania was in a unique position to capitalise.
"The next summer is going to be quite exciting, but we do have this staff with JobKeeper ending in March and then going into the quieter winter period," he said.
"International borders staying closed can be a good thing for Tasmania. We're already seeing a lot of people who would be doing safaris in Africa, or that bucket list trip to Europe, instead going on multi-day walks in Tassie."
Border volatility the 'new normal' for businesses
The sudden border restrictions around Christmas-New Year showed the volatility that will continue for Tasmanian businesses until a vaccine is widely available, the Launceston Chamber of Commerce believes.
LCC executive officer David Peach said some industries remained at risk beyond March.
"That's our 'new normal' so there's possibly a case for selective and tested continuation of JobKeeper for some industries," he said.
"Against that we must balance that the so-called 'zombie' businesses shouldn't be propped up indefinitely at taxpayer expense."
Premier Peter Gutwein said the government would take a "wait and see" approach when considering whether sectors needed additional support beyond March.
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