ALMOST every sector of the Australian economy has been hit hard by COVID-19, but the draconian but necessary restrictions on international and domestic travel have been especially damaging to the travel and tourism industries.
Big travel companies such as FlightCentre have laid off thousands of staff, and the drastic cost-cutting and job-shedding plan announced last week by Qantas will only add to the pain.
But many, if not most, businesses in travel and tourism are small to medium enterprises, family businesses often founded by people who have put their entire working lives into creating something special for others to enjoy.
As the Hunter travel industry figures who have spoken today to the Newcastle Herald point out, theirs was not a sector that could be readily reoriented in pursuit of survival tactics.
Implicit in the Qantas cuts is an expectation that international travel at any meaningful scale is unlikely to resume for at least a year, if not considerably longer.
Domestic tourism had seen a glimmer of hope with border reopenings, but regional holidays rarely require the service of a travel agent, and the present noticeable increase in Australian coronavirus cases could soon result in a tightening of recently eased restrictions if numbers do not soon level out.
Mercifully, our daily increases are still only in double digits. Dozens of nations are reporting thousands of new cases a day, led by the United States, where accelerating outbreaks are adding 40,000 people daily to the national total.
The optimistic idea that COVID-19 would be a sharp, but short intrusion into our everyday lives is now a distant memory.
The economic pain is destined to worsen, and the pressure on the Morrison government to somehow alleviate the worst of it will only increase.
In the same way that repeatedly lowering already record-low interest rates did not have the stimulus impact that central banks had predicted, a government campaign to encourage tourism may - unfortunately for the sector - have little impact if people do not have the desire, let alone the spare cash, to travel.
The longer the COVID impact continues, the more that people will maintained their "new normal" spending habits.
That's dreadful news for the tourism sector and indeed much of the economy, but it's the horrible reality when we all face a situation out of our ultimate control.
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