Staff at Moonshadow TQC cruises Port Stephens face an anxious wait to see how the business copes following the end of Jobkeeper.
The tourism operator is running at about 50 per cent capacity at a time which is traditionally one of the busiest times of year.
Business development manager Mel Turner said the business, which had been heavily reliant on overseas visitors, had worked hard to keep its 20 highly skilled full time employees as engaged as possible in recent months.
"[The end of Jobkeeper] will undoubtedly have an impact," Ms Turner said.
"We hopefully won't have to let staff go, but we will be considering a reduction in hours for some full time employees to soften the blow. That is consistent with the occupancy levels of the business at the moment."
Moonshadow was forced to close its doors for the first time in 39 years at the height of last year's lockdown.
"We had 70 per cent of our business turned off overnight," Ms Turner said.
The Jobkeeper subsidy allowed the business to diversify and pivot into the domestic market, which has helped keep it going in recent months.
But more support is needed until the industry fully recovers.
"We have had stable domestic visitation but obviously we are dealing with a lot of competition in regional towns," Ms Turner said.
"Now that the flight discounts have come in, there is further competition diluting an already competitive domestic market.
"We absolutely support what the airlines were given but we have missed out.
"Overall, the airlines, operators and accommodation work together. There has to be a synergy there. At the moment the ground tour operators have missed out."
A NSW Tourism Industry Council survey found 42 per cent of tourism operators expected to reduce staff numbers and 53 per cent would cut hours in coming months.
One in 10 said they expected to close permanently and one in five said they could close temporarily.
"The survey results underscore the massive risk to the NSW visitor economy. Not only will we see an immediate effect on jobs, industry capability and confidence, there will be flow on effects to the deep supply chain," NSW Tourism Industry Council executive manager Greg Binskin said.
"Once the vaccine has been rolled out and international borders reopen, the visitor economy will rebound strongly. In the meantime, we risk hobbling the recovery should people leave the industry permanently."