Economic modelling undertaken by Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) indicates the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is set to hit the Australian visitor economy much harder than SARS.

TTF CEO Margy Osmond said although the full extent of the economic impact won’t be known for some time we wanted to know the implications should the virus fail to be contained within the next 3-6 month period.

“What we are facing is a contracted visitor economy with significant losses across international visitation, tourism spend and employment in 2020 and beyond. The economic impacts reflect the loss of direct tourism spend (tourism receipts) by the reduction in international visitor arrivals and the estimated reduction in employment within the visitor economy due to business slowing, in some instances, closure.

“When you look at SARS there were 29 countries affected over 9 months, our current situation is 29 countries over 8 weeks and counting.  Not to mention 79,000 cases plus for coronavirus compared to 8,098 for SARS.

“Whilst the outbreak has not yet reached the classification of a pandemic the Treasurer has indicated that the economic impact will be greater than the bushfires and it will play-out more broadly across the Australian economy.  What is unique about tourism is that we have been directly in the firing line for both crises.”

Tourism and Transport Forum 2020 Estimates

International Visitation – Down 40% Jan to June 2020 compared to same period last year, a loss of 1.8 million international visitors.

International Receipts – Monthly average loss post-March 2020 in total tourism receipts from all inbound markets $2b on a per month basis.

Tourism Jobs – Assumes that positions are lost permanently for at least a 12-month period.

  • Staffing reduction of between 15% -20% may be occurring, the net effect being an estimated reduction of 99,000 – 133,200 jobs in mostly part-time, casual and contract/seasonal jobs/positions
  • Lost salaries and wages into broader economy – $3.9b to $5.3b
  • Lost PAYG tax contributions – $1.12b to $1.59b.

“The figures are stark.  Although we have a robust health system, this global health crisis comes at a time when Australian tourism is already on its knees.

“As an industry we will continue to deal with the here and now and also plan for the medium to long-term.”


Please find below a copy of the recently released report