The Australian government has launched a A$1.2 billion ($928 million) tourism package as part of its bid to accelerate economic growth in pandemic-hit industries and regions.
Australian travelers will have access to 800 000 half-price airfares in 13 tourism-reliant regions, funded by the government as part of the package.
Other headline initiatives include larger loans to small businesses - including a two-year repayment holiday - and direct support to help airlines Qantas and Virgin keep staff employed and planes equipped.
Qantas plans to resume some international flights by the end of October when Australia plans to complete its national immunization program.
The measure would see taxpayers subsidizing flights to and from destinations such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, Alice Springs and Launceston as closed international borders and intermittent state border closures keep tourists away.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the Australian Today that the tourism package will help the country's pandemic-hit industries and regions rebound from the "next hump" of economic recovery.
"We have got to get tourists on the ground and that's what is going to keep people in their jobs," Morrison said.
Morrison said that every dollar spent on an air ticket would equate to around A$10 spent on the ground in the region.
The Australian government maintains that demand would increase the number of tickets, but plans to subsidize approximately 46,000 airfares a week, to 800,000. The offer stretches to 13 destinations, but Morrison said that the government was open to adding more places to the package.
However, he acknowledged that the benefits of the package could be hampered if states had chosen to close their borders. Yet the prime minister held high hopes that "2021 is different to 2020."
Morrison has been wary of reopening the international border, which had been closed since last March to nearly all but citizens and permanent residents who have to go through a two-week mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival at their expense.
Shares of travel-related companies contributed to early gains on the Australian share market, with travel agents Flight Centre Ltd and Webjet Ltd both up by more than 6% to trade near one-year intraday highs. Qantas was up by 3%.