The end of lockdown restrictions in New South Wales this week – Monday was celebrated by many as “Freedom Day” – is being hailed as a welcome lifeline for small and medium-sized businesses. And travel management company Corporate Traveller sees this development as a potential catalyst to economic recovery across the state.
Research by the company highlights the resilience of Melbourne and Sydney, with over a quarter of SMEs in the two cities saying they weren’t impacted by lockdowns at all, while 53 per cent said they would focus on bouncing back when restrictions eased.
“Sydney is a main artery of the Australian economy and SME businesses will no doubt be a backbone of the inevitable recovery that’ll take place over coming months,” Corporate Traveller General Manager Australia, Tom Walley, said.
“From our recent survey, it was incredibly promising to see that SMEs across Australia’s two major states, which have been hit hard by lockdowns and restrictions, will proactively build their businesses back up after lockdowns are eased and eventually abolished.”
“The next major milestone will be when NSW hits 80 per cent double vaccinated as that is when intrastate travel will open – we’ve already seen a big uplift in both the number of searches and the number of booking for corporate travel towards the back-end of the year,” Walley added. “From the conversations I’ve had with prospects and current customers, the pent-up demand to get back out there face-to-face and to pitch for new business is insatiable, with the passion for people getting on planes not being diminished by this global pandemic.”
The Statistical Snapshot Research Paper Series, 2019-20 by the Parliament of Australia – Department of Parliamentary Services reported that NSW recorded strong growth in small business employment between June 2013 and June 2018, with the small business share of total private sector employment for the state sat at 46.1 per cent in June 2018 and small-business employment growth of 13.3 per cent between 2013 and 2018.
Corporate Traveller also estimates the total business travel spend in Australia to be $25 billion per year, money that isn’t flowing into the economy in the event of restrictions like what has occurred over the past year and a half.
“There’s no doubt that SMEs will lead the economic recovery across Australia as growth in both business sales and employee productively will bring direct benefits to the country’s bottom line,” Walley said. “In addition, business spending because of travel is good for local economies. A typical business trip will include spending on transport, restaurants, and hotels.
“It’s the simple things like stopping off at a local coffee cart for your morning caffeine fix or grabbing a bite to eat at a local franchise for lunch,” Walley added. “I know from experience it tends to be the small things like this that really adds up and helps those businesses to flourish.”