Job layoffs begin in wake of China travel ban
BRISBANE businesses highly dependent on Chinese travellers are starting to wilt with souvenir shops putting off staff, money exchanges failing to sell yuan and budget accommodation holding out hope that students arrive.
The Australian Government's ban on Chinese travellers that came into effect because of the Coronavirus outbreak is really starting to take its toll and the end may not be in sight.
Student One, which has three CBD locations and specifically caters for students, says their service has been disrupted because students are unable to travel.
CEO Tim Weston said the uncertainty about how long the ban will be in place has made it difficult to assess the full impact it will have on Student One although he remains optimistic.
"From our discussions with the students that are booked with us, a vast majority have expressed how keen they are to commence or continue their studies and are confident of getting here when the current travel ban is lifted," Mr Weston said.
"Students that were due to arrive from China in the past 10 days have elected to defer their arrival, which we are happy to accommodate."
Retail wise, sales have dipped by up to 40 per cent at CBD souvenir and gift shops.
One chain store alone in the Queen St Mall estimated sales had dipped by up to 40 per cent while another was laying off staff.
Australia The Gift manager Stephen Coleman said Chinese tour groups make up more than a third of their customers and their absence had affected their takings.
"We've definitely felt it," Mr Coleman said.
"We're about 40 per cent down on what we would normally take because tour groups are not coming through."
Tourist House Souvenirs' owner Kristy Nasrawi, who has three stores, said the ban was a double whammy because it came at about the same time as the Chinese New Year.
It had forced her to reduce staffing levels to cushion the financial fallout.
"You don't want to cut anyone's hours down but you have to do what you need to do to pay for your rent and pay for your stock," she said.
"There's no longer Chinese New Year here in Australia which is massive for us so to have no Chinese tourism coming through or just Asia in general - there's none of that coming through," she said.
"We're easily down 30 per cent down so far and February has only just begun so a big, big hit. The Chinese bring in a lot of money for tourism, hospitality and retail and are the big spenders.
Besides the ban on Chinese travellers, the downturn in people heading home to China has affected money exchange bureaus.
Bureau de Change's Brisbane area manager Umair Aslam said they had not sold a single Chinese Yuan or Hong Kong dollar since the ban came into effect.
"We are buying a lot of yuan but not selling any," Mr Aslam said.
The temporary 14-day travel ban on people who have visited or transited through mainland China was due to expire on Saturday.
The Australian Government is monitoring the situation and may extend the ban.