An additional $51m has been allocated in the budget for a Regional Tourism Recovery initiative to assist tourism regions “highly reliant on international travellers” to pivot and adapt their products, experiences and marketing strategies to the domestic market.

“New Budget measures will further support the sector and jobs by stimulating domestic visitation to our tourism regions”

The government said its budget will “get more Australians into jobs” as part of its Economic Recovery Plan.

“As we shift to the next phase of our tourism recovery plan, new Budget measures will further support the sector and jobs by stimulating domestic visitation to our tourism regions and encouraging domestic business travel,” Trade, Tourism and Investment minister, Simon Birmingham said.

“With one in five jobs dependant on trade, our government will continue to support Australian exporters by keeping trading channels open and accessible during the Covid-19 pandemic, expanding market access through even more trade agreements and continuing to support a global rules-based trading system.”

The government also added $1 billion to Australia’s research effort, which according to Universities Australia will allow universities to secure an important and continuing role in national recovery.

“The government clearly understands you can’t have an economic recovery without investing in research and development,” UA chair Deborah Terry said, adding with the funding “world-class research and discovery can continue on Australia’s university campuses”.

“The injection of an additional $1 billion will stabilise university research capacity and jobs,” Terry added.

“This deals with the very serious short-term issues caused by Covid-19.

“Universities also look forward to working in partnership with Education minister Dan Tehan to find longer-term solutions to sustain university research.”

A further $550m will be provided over the next four years to help students and universities, funding 50,000 new short courses which will “be especially important for mature-aged workers looking for new skills”, UA noted.

“This adds to the 12,000 new university places to meet increased demand due to Covid-19.”

Some $317.1m will extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until the middle of 2021 to “restore global supply chains and keep international freight routes and flights operating during Covid‑19”, which the government says will benefit farmers.

It is not clear whether the budget will benefit ELICOS providers in the country, however.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy has been extended by six months until March 28, 2021, but was cut by $300 in September.

Full-time employees are now eligible for $1,200 a fortnight, while part-time staff working less than 20 hours per week can receive $750 per fortnight.

“A safe opening of borders is of the utmost importance if the sector is going to avoid decimation,” Brett Blacker of English Australia recently reminded.

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