INTERNATIONAL borders closures, which could be in place for another year, could leave a $55 billion hole in Australia's tourism economy, and regional cities are feared to be among the hardest hit.
As many of Ballarat's tourist attractions including Sovereign Hill and Kryal Castle opened for the first time in three months at the weekend, a new report has cast real concern as to how the tourism sector will be able to survive long term without international travel and a predicted reduction in domestic tourism.
Barring any further COVID-19 outbreaks, the 99.7 per cent drop in international tourism which the country experienced in April will be just the start of a long haul for the industry, which is set to rely solely on the domestic market for up to another year.
Reports at the weekend said an Australian Trade and Investment Commission is predicting "tourism expenditure to fall from $138.5 billion in 2019 to $83.8 billion".
It also predicts a 26 per cent drop in domestic travel from $54.3 billion in 2019 to $40.2 billion in the 2020-21 financial year.
This is based on the assumption that international travel bans will remain in place until July next year.
Tourism Australia figures show that to the 12 month until the end of January 9,501,100 people arrived in Australia as tourists.
In April this year, than number had plummeted to just 2300 people and unless a Pacific bubble is agreed upon, that number will not change in the short term.
For a city such as Ballarat, which relies heavily on the tourism market, it could prove disastrous.
Sovereign Hill chief executive Sara Quon said this month inspiring pride and local cultural heritage would be a key factor going forward as well as focusing on the domestic 'friends and relatives' market.
"Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, the tourism industry is going to feel the lack of international visitors as a whole," she said. "None of us know how long that will be, but we are certainly planning around the idea that the international market may not return for the next 12 months.
"Our international visitation is around 10 per cent and we know we have to be conscious of the loss of that market, we're a not for profit organisation and we have to understand that. Hopefully all of the Australians who aren't travelling (overseas) at this time will spend time in regional Victoria and regional Australia."
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