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COVID-19 Support

Tourism NT is working to deliver the most up to date information and support services available to the industry to help Territorians navigate the challenging impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We know our businesses and our people are hurting and are deeply worried about what the future may hold.

The Northern Territory Government is committed to saving jobs and reducing the economic impacts wherever possible. The Territory Government's Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan was developed to provide immediate relief in response to the deep economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, in addition to the $2million Tourism Resilience Plan.

We are working hard in coordination with Tourism Australia, the domestic travel trade, our interstate media and international trade partners to ensure the Territory is ready for the recovery phase, by continuing to build demand and then be back in market driving crucial bookings as soon as we're able.

Territory Government Support

Tourism Business Support Program

The Territory Government has implemented a new Tourism Business Support Program to provide event organisers, suppliers and tourism operators access to business continuity and financial advice.

The NT government has provided $200,000 in funding to deliver dedicated a KPMG Business Support program enabling individual business owners and operators access to personalised financial advice and business planning advice. 

Private appointments with KPMG representatives are available up to the end of July 2020. Tourism NT urge local businesses to submit an expression of interest and gather the relevant documents as soon as possible to access this support.

Tourism Top End recently hosted an online webinar with Derek Campbell, Managing Partner of KPMG in the Northern Territory, to discuss the business support available and to provide operators with further information on the program.

Power Up Tutorials

Tourism NT has developed a free series of tutorials to help NT tourism businesses build skills, plan for recovery and develop their business toolkit.

Delivered through the Business Enterprise Development program in partnership with Tourism NT, Tourism Top End and Tourism Central Australia, the series covers topics particularly relevant to the current environment; moving from a focus on getting fundamental business documents in order through to innovation and business pivots and building your brand. 

Hosted by Tourism Top End live every Wednesday at 2pm (ACST), the online sessions are 45-60 minutes in length with at least 15 minutes allocated to address your questions. Find out more about tutorial topics and register now.

 

International Marketing

While all marketing campaign activity ceased in March, Tourism NT are working to keep the destination top of mind via public relations and social media and utilising virtual platforms to continue with trade engagement, education and training.

In the context of the current global environment, we have streamlined our international marketing focus and resourcing to suit.

As part of our COVID-19 recovery planning, working in conjunction with Tourism Australia, our international marketing teams are on-hand to provide market intelligence to assist with the reactivation of our trade distribution networks, to guide our post pandemic campaign strategy and to help inform our aviation recovery strategy.

For further information please contact Rachel Telford for further information and find our revised international contact list here.

Domestic Marketing

Our PR & Media team are continuing to share the stories of the Territory with Australia and are here to help communicate how NT businesses are adapting at this challenging time. If you’ve got an innovative way that you’re doing business, some positive news to share or an iconic Territory tale to tell as we navigate through COVID-19, we’d love to help promote your product or business. Contact our team on [email protected].

Tourism NT has launched the new intra-Territory campaign 'Time to be a Territorian' encouraging locals to get out and enjoy their backyard, and help support the tourism sector which has been globally impacted as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign is the first step in a planned marketing approach to support the local tourism sector while NT borders remain close. With biosecurity restrictions being lifted from Friday 5 June, the campaign will support NT businesses to plan and take forward bookings.

The Northern Territory consumer website has been refreshed with new content including travel articles such as 12 of the NT’s most inspiring Instagram accounts and new drive itineraries for Explorers Way, Nature’s Way, Red Centre Way, Outback Way, Savannah Way, Binns Track, Arnhem Way and Greater Litchfield Loop.

The team have also created a new program to re-launch existing Territory stories and media. An example of this activity is a recently published Forbes article encouraging travellers to virtually explore new places, which reintroduced Tourism NT’s previously launched Google Earth/Street view footage of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

New content is being published daily and with everyone around the globe at home dreaming of the Territory we will be able to convert this interest to travel booking and action when the time is right.

We encourage operators to share media articles and videos to inspire travellers and build excitement for when visitors are able to return to the Territory.

Business Health Check Tool

A free, online Business Health Check Tool has been developed to help Territory businesses determine the health of your business, identify areas that could help your business going forward and assist you in accessing services and initiatives available through government. 

The checklist consists of a series of questions, which will take around 15 minutes to answer.

Jobs, Rescue and Recovery Plan

The Territory Government announced its Jobs Rescue & Recovery Plan to secure jobs and help protect Territorians from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
 
The Home Improvement Scheme was extended from $30 million to $100 million to fast-track around 5,000 screwdriver-ready projects in Territory homes, requiring physical improvements to land and / or buildings, and repairs and maintenance services. The Home Improvement Scheme was strongly embraced by Territorians and applications are now closed and being assessed in the order they were received. The Business Recovery team aim to process around 600 to 800 applications each week with all 20,000 applications assessed by around October 2020.

The Business Improvement Grant will deliver $20 million worth of projects. Territory businesses were able to access a $10,000 grant. For work valued at more than $10,000, the co-contribution by the Territory Government is limited to $10,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a maximum grant of $20,000. Funding for the Business Improvement Grant is now fully committed and no further grant applications are being accepted.

For more information visit the Business Recovery website.

Small Business Survival Fund

The Territory Government’s $50 million Small Business Survival Fund, as part of the Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan, was specifically targeted to support businesses that have a significant reduction in trade due to the shutdown and physical distancing provisions.

The fund was designed to offer immediate support to businesses to survive the shutdown period and adapt to the new operating environment and has three goals:

  • Help local businesses survive through the partial or full shut-down period. For example, support in meeting unavoidable fixed costs.
  • Help local businesses adjust and adapt to take advantage of the new consumer environment. For example, expanding online services, takeaway and delivery.
  • Prepare local businesses to take advantage of the rebounding economy when the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is over. For example, upgrading premises or upskilling staff.

As we work toward economic recovery, the survival elements of the Small Business Survival Fund are drawing to a close as we take steps to the new normal business restart and will be closed to new applications.

Support will now be available through the Rebound Support Grant to help eligible businesses transition to the new consumer environment and prepare to rebound when the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is over. The grant has been established for new activities that adapt or rebound the business to operate effectively in the new economic environment.

Businesses approved for the Small Business Survival Fund and / or the Business Hardship Register, with annual turnover between $75,000 and $10 million will be able to access the grant once, providing quotes for up to five different activities.

Grants include an unmatched portion worth up to $5,000 depending on business size and an additional matched contribution of up to $10,000. The maximum grant available ranges between $10,000 and $15,000 in total.

Eligible businesses will be contacted from Monday 25 May 2020 with an access form for the rebound support grant.

Full details of the fund and payments are provided in the terms and conditions.

Please direct any questions regarding your application to [email protected].

Business Hardship Package

The Business Hardship Package is designed to help reduce costs for local businesses and keep them open and operating now, as well as in the rebound and recovery phase once the crisis is over and restrictions start to lift. Support is available to Territory businesses with a turnover less than $50 million who can demonstrate a reduction of turnover of 30% or more due to coronavirus.

Territory businesses can now apply to be listed on a central Business Hardship Register which will then enable the business to apply for:

  • Waiving or deferring payment of payroll tax
  • Reduction on utilities bills where offered
  • Rate reductions where offered
  • Providing incentives for commercial landlords to reduce rents
  • Other relief which may be offered from time to time

The Business Hardship Package is available for a period of up to six months from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

All businesses who have been approved for the Small Business Survival Fund will also be eligible to be included on this Register.

Commercial landlords are also eligible for this support as long as they provide evidence they have negotiated with their tenants in line with the good faith principles in the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct.

Territory Jobs Hub

The NT Government is supporting Territory workers impacted by Coronavirus to connect with local businesses and find new employment.

The Territory Jobs Hub helps businesses to connect with people looking for work, including casual and contract work.

Worker & Wellbeing Fund

The Worker & Wellbeing Fund is aimed to help local workers struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, by:

  • Helping people access wellbeing and other counselling or support services that are available
  • Assisting people to navigate the welfare system and access income and any other financial support available
  • Help workers who have lost their job find new employment opportunities fast – such as guiding people to job matching services like the Territory Jobs Hub
  • Assisting Territorians who require access to accommodation and other essentials

The Territory Government has funded Red Cross, who in partnership with Melaleuca Refugee Centre, is providing immediate financial and counselling support to international students and visa holders who have lost employment. Assistance includes financial support for basic necessities and emergency costs such as urgent medical expenses and rental support.
 
The Territory Government has also funded CatholicCare NT to expand this relief work and provide emergency support to the most vulnerable people in the Territory.

Household and Business Battery Scheme

A $6000 grant will be available to households and businesses for the purchase and installation of solar PV systems with eligible batteries and inverters, or for those who already have solar, for batteries and inverters. The minimum size for eligible batteries is 7kWh. 

A new standard Feed in Tariff (FiT) of 8.3 cents per kWh will also be offered by Jacana Energy and will apply to all new businesses and households with behind-the-meter solar installations of up to 30kW in size.

Applications for funding and more information can be found here.

Australian Government Support

COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund

The Australian Government's $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund will support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been severely affected by the crisis.

The Relief and Recovery Fund will be delivered through existing or newly established Government programs or initiatives and will be used flexibly to provide timely support when and where it is most critically needed.

A list of measures announced under the Relief and Recovery Fund is available on the Department of Infrastructure website. Stay up to date on future announcements under the Fund through the agency's page.

Funding relief for exhibiting zoos and aquariums

The Federal Government released a $94.6 million support package to assist Australia's exhibiting zoos and aquariums with the fixed operational costs associated with the caring of their animals, while also helping to ensure Australian zoos and aquariums can remain viable and ready to welcome visitors when restrictions are eased.

Eligible exhibiting zoos and aquariums will have access to a grant that contributes towards up to six months of its animal welfare operating costs. This includes animal feed, enclosure, health and other specialised care expenses, and utilities directly related to the housing and caring for animals.

In addition to this support to help with operational costs, zoos and aquariums who meet the criteria are able to apply for the JobKeeper program to assist with staffing costs.

Austrade has worked with the Zoo and Aquarium Association to identify eligible members, as well as state and territory tourism organisations to identify non-members which may be eligible for financial assistance. Eligible zoos and aquariums will be invited by Austrade to submit an application for a grant.

An initial payment will be made within 10 days of eligible applicants executing a funding agreement. The balance will be paid from 1 July 2020 when the expenses of eligible applicants who can show an ongoing decline in revenue of at least 30% have been established.

This initiative is part of the Government's $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For more information please download the Fact Sheet.

Parks Tourism Business Support

NT businesses operating in Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks will benefit from a financial relief package announced by the Australian Government.

Tourism businesses operating within the parks will have their licence and permit fees waived for the period of 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021. Park entry fees will also be waived for visitors through to 31 December 2020.

The Australian Government is backing the Northern Territory as part of their assistance to sectors, regions and communities disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will provide immediate relief to industry and assist the sector to prepare to welcome visitors back to the Territory.

Eligible businesses will be contacted directly by Parks Australia to facilitate the payments.

Boost Cash Flow for Employers

The Government is providing temporary cash flow support to small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organisations that employ staff during the economic downturn associated with Coronavirus.

The boosting cash flow for employers measure will be achieved through two sets of cash flow boosts to support employers to retain employees.

Through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Government will provide tax-free cash flow boosts of between $20,000 and $100,000 to eligible businesses, delivered through credits in the activity statement system, when eligible businesses lodge their activity statements.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. Temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 will provide targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

The elements of the package are:

  • A temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive
  • A temporary increase in the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice, and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition
  • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent
  • Providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001

Businesses don't need to apply, these relief measures will apply for 6 months. Find out more here.

JobKeeper Payment

The $130 billion JobKeeper Payment will help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by Coronavirus. The payment will ensure eligible employers remain connected to their workforce and will help businesses restart quickly when the crisis is over.

If your business has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 you will be able to access a wages subsidy to continue paying your employees. Through the program, businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee for a maximum of six months.

Australian citizens over the age of 16 are eligible if they are full-time or part-time workers, sole traders, or if they have been in casual employment for more than a year. They will also need to have been employed on March 1 2020.

The Australian Government has ruled out more casual workers accessing its wage subsidy, with charity workers to be given access to the Jobseeker subsidy.

Download the Factsheets for further information.

JobSeeker Payment

The Australian Government provides financial support to people that have lost their job and/or are out of work through its JobSeeker Payment program. Financial help is able for people between 22 and pension age that are unemployed and looking for work, or doing approved activities to find a job. It is also available for people that are sick or injured and unable to do your usual work for a short time.

The income support payment Youth Allowance for job seekers is also available for people 21 or younger that are looking for work, or temporarily unable to work.

Export Market Development Grants

The Export Market Development Grants scheme is a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters, supporting a wide range of industries.

Funding for the scheme will increase by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. On 3 October 2019, a review of the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme and Australian Government financial assistance to SME exporters was announced.

ACCC Guidelines

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Guidelines have been released to assist small businesses to understand their rights and obligations when issuing refunds in response to the coronavirus under the Australian Consumer Law.

The guide outlines small business rights and obligations relating to issues such as cancelled functions and events, pricing of goods and services, and charging subscription and membership fees when the business is not operating.

Small business can contact the ACCC via their online form.

Financial Support for Exporters

The Federal Government has announced a new initiative for Australian exporters to access business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia.

The new COVID-19 Export Capital Facility will target loans to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to COVID-19, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources. The facility will provide critical financial assistance help trade-exposed businesses, including those from regional areas and in the tourism sector, to get through this crisis and get to the other side.

In addition to the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility, Export Finance Australia will also provide assistance to its existing customers through access to credit and financial relief.

Download the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility factsheet for further information.

Banking and Taxation Support

Loan Repayment Deferrals for Small Businesses

The Australian Banking Association has announced affected small businesses will be able to access a six-month deferral of all loan repayments. Small businesses are encouraged to contact their banks to apply. More information can be found here.

Credit Flow Support

An exemption from responsible lending obligations is available to lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. The Reserve Bank of Australia package is providing banks access to money at .25% fixed interest. Contact your bank online today.

Financial Assistance

Australian banks have hardship teams ready to help. There are practical ways your bank can help and the type of assistance will depend on individual circumstances.

Assistance can include:

  • A deferral of scheduled loan repayments
  • Waiving fees and charges
  • Interest free periods or no interest rate increases
  • Debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable
Tax Support

The Australian Government has enacted additional tax support to help the economy withstand and recover from COVID-19 economic impacts.

Monthly GST credits

  • It is worth considering if you should temporarily change your reporting cycle. If you report quarterly and you are due for a GST refund, moving to monthly reporting means you can get quicker access to GST refunds you are entitled to.

PAYG instalments

  • If you are a pay as you go (PAYG) instalments payer, you can vary your PAYG instalments on your activity statement. You can do this by lodging a revised activity statement before your instalment is due and before you lodge your tax return for the year. Taxpayers who vary their PAYG instalment rate or amount can also claim a refund for any instalments made during the 2019–20 financial year.

Remitting interest payments

  • The ATO will consider remitting interest and penalties incurred after 23 January 2020.

Low increase payment plans

  • If you need help to pay your existing and ongoing tax liabilities, contact the ATO to discuss entering a low interest payment plan.

Emergency Support

  • If your business is experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, operators can phone the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) doesn't apply additional relief options automatically and businesses will need to contact the ATO to discuss the above options. For more information visit the ATO website.

Early Access to Superannuation

To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements: 

  • you're unemployed
  • you're eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
  • you were made redundant on or after 1 January 2020
  • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more on or after 1 January 2020
  • if you're a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more on or after 1 January 2020

The Australian Government has announced most temporary visa holders with work rights will also be able to withdraw up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation this financial year to help them through the crisis.

Temporary skilled visa holders who have been stood down, rather than laid off, will be allowed to apply for a visa extension, and have their hours reduced without it being considered a breach of their visa condition. Working holiday makers in critical industries will be exempt from a six-month limitation with one employer. They will also be eligible for a further visa to allow them to keep working in those sectors beyond the next six months, if their current visa expires.

Those who are still not enable to economically support themselves under the measures are urged to return to their home country. For more information visit here.

Further Advice & Support

ATEC's Road to Recovery Program

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has developed Road to Recovery tourism tutorial series; a 36-week online program designed to provide our industry with the necessary tools to be ready to bounce back after the impacts of COVID-19.

The program aims to ensure your business is equipped to navigate the significant challenges facing the industry and will cover a range of topics, including strategies to adapt & innovate, marketing in an increasingly digital world and bettering commercial relationships.

The tutorials are 45 minutes in duration, provided free of charge by ATEC, and will be hosted every Thursday at 2pm AEST. Registrations are required and the program is open to all tourism operators.

Previous tutorials can be viewed online.

Emergency Management Plan

Having an appropriate Emergency Management Plan in place will help your business before, during and after an emergency situation. A business continuity plan documents the steps you need to take to keep your business running and your cash flow coming in.

For further information on how to prepare an emergency management plan to help protect your business before, during and after an emergency visit the Australian Government's Business website.

Independent Advice

Access to 4 hours of free and independent advice is available to directly help businesses. Territory businesses can contact either the Business Enterprise Centre NT or the Chamber of Commerce NT to access independent and expert advice on:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Business strategy and managing through tough times
  • Finance, accounting, bookkeeping and insurance
  • Legal matters including intellectual property and contracts
  • Web, e-commerce, social media and marketing 

Small businesses will be able to receive free advice from expert advisers free of charge, even if you are not a member. A guide for employers is also available. 
 
Call the Chamber of Commerce NT Hotline on 8982 8188 or the Business Enterprise Centre on 8923 6133. 

Further information and resources to help you manage your small business can be found here.

For the latest information on COVID-19 visit coronavirus.nt.gov.au or health.gov.au or health.nt.gov.au

You can also stay up to date by subscribing to our Industry Update e-newsletter.

Page last updated on 03 June 2020