BYTAP – what we are doing to help the youth tourism industry

Like many of you, the company I work for (AIFS) has been heavily hit by the pandemic. It has not been an easy three months – I have had to lay off staff, reduce hours and cut every cost I can find.

I can honestly say it has been the hardest 3 months of my working life. I have a very personal interest in keeping the company I work for running, but having worked in tourism for the last 25 years, I also feel incredibly strongly that we need to do everything we can to keep the industry going.

So I want to share some work BYTAP is doing to let you know that there are also others working to try and keep our industry alive and kicking (with apologies in advance for the length!).

For those of you who may not know BYTAP (Backpackers and Youth Tourism Advisory Panel) was established as a sector advocacy group under ATEC.

While there is no longer any formal connection with ATEC it has continued to meet and when possible advocate behind the scenes for issues relating to our industry.

Current panel members are Brendan McKenna, Mark Baldwin, Kerry Tate, Joanna Burnet, Silke Kerwick and I. Since the onset of COVID-19, BYTAP has regularly met and spoken with representatives from ATV, AQ, the BOAs and other peak industry bodies about what industry sees as the key priorities.

The following is the four we have agreed upon:

Extending financial assistance (such as Job Keeper) for inbound tourism operators

A one-year extension for Working Holiday visa holders effected by the pandemic on/offshore

The potential rollout of a secure corridor (quarantine model) to bring Working Holiday visa holders back to Australia

Reduction in Working Holiday Visa fees

The top point is the most critical; as an industry with no date set for the opening of borders, most of us will not be able to survive without financial support.

BYTAP’s approach is two-pronged; having our message heard by government (and having them act on it!) and getting our message heard in the media.

For the former we have started to take the first steps – last week I met with Minister Katter and we aim to speak with other ministers in the coming weeks.

Our media efforts have only just started and need to be ramped up quickly. To that end we want to share your stories, how the pandemic has affected your business, and the impact it will have if no help is forthcoming in the coming months.

If you’d like to help please email me – waylward@aifs.com.au.

And many thanks to those who have already been in touch with case studies.

While BYTAP is one voice, we know that many of you have already been in touch with your local minister independently – please do not stop. Statements in parliament by Ministers’ Warren Entsch and George Christensen today show that they are listening. We just need to increase this noise.

I’ll leave it there for the moment but happy to hear feedback. I’ve also included the other BYTAP panel members on this post so please feel free to contact us if you prefer.

Thanks for listening.

Source: Wendy Aylward

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