The Australian government has announced that it will halve the price of flights to and from 13 regions around the country—amounting to nearly 800,000 tickets—in a bid to boost domestic tourism.
Between April and July, a 50 per cent discount will be offered for flights to and from the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays region and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland; the Lasseter region—which includes Uluru—and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory; Launceston, Devonport and Burnie in Tasmania; Broome in Western Australia; Avalon in Victoria; Merimbula in New South Wales; and Kangaroo Island, just off the coast of South Australia.
Some destinations are only available from certain cities, however, based on indicative routes. More specific details on that here.
Select locations were chosen according to their reliance on aviation for tourism and international visitors. It’s hoped that the budget flights will incentivise Australians—many of whom might otherwise travel to Bali, Europe and beyond in the southern hemisphere’s winter—to book vacations locally and splash their cash at home.
And the incentives are compelling: the ABC indicates that a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, as an example, could cost as little as $60.
"This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. "Our tourism businesses don't want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back."
The flight routes and specific number of tickets captured in the deal will be driven by demand—but it’s estimated that an average of 46,000 half-price fares will be offered each week with the country’s main airlines. Depending on demand, more destinations and routes could also be included later in the year.
Beyond drawing Australians to local holiday destinations, though, the government insists that the initiative is also important to keep the wheels greased for when the international borders eventually reopen and overseas flights are back on the agenda.
"We're also backing the workforces of our international airlines and the teams and infrastructure they need, so that when tourism takes off again and our borders reopen, our airlines are ready to go,” said Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Discounted tickets can be purchased between the beginning of April and the end of July, for travel through until the end of September.
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