Tourism hands back millions to West Aussies as restrictions ease

21 May 2020

The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions looms as a vital lifeline to the tourism and travel sector, with Bankwest data revealing almost $3.5 million was last month refunded to West Australians.

Bankwest analysed transaction trends between 14 April to 13 May of international and domestic merchants from Western Australian credit and debit Mastercard accounts.

The data looked at a year-on-year comparison and reinforced Bankwest’s Spend Trends insights, with issues of minimal revenue in some sectors compounded by high refund expenses.

That imbalance was most felt by cruise lines, which refunded almost 20 times (1,935.3%) the revenue generated – that was compared to just 2.5 per cent in the same period in 2019.

International and domestic airlines topped refunds in volume and value, with more than 3000 to WA customers at almost $2 million – about 2.5 times what West Australians spent on the sector.

Travel agencies and tour operators were also hit hard, with more than 1500 refunds to West Australians costing about $1.1 million, at almost three times the revenue coming from the state.

Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “Our priority is the wellbeing of customers and the community, and this data paints a clear picture of the impacts of the recent situation.

“These refunds will be a significant and much-needed cash boost for many people, but the other side of the story is the damage many businesses continue to sustain due to COVID-19.

“Our Spend Trends series has highlighted the challenge facing many WA businesses, and this data shows how those difficulties are compounded by outgoing expenses such as refunds.

“The latest Spend Trends showed WA travel agencies and tour operators have had a 95 per cent decline in turnover, and in the past month they’ve also returned $1.1 million to WA customers.

“That is a lot of money for any business, let alone a sector receiving next-to no income, and I hope the gradual easing of restrictions brings this sector some much-needed relief very soon.”

About Bankwest
Bankwest’s vision is to deliver brilliant customer experiences that matter and our purpose is to improve the financial wellbeing of our customers and communities. Bankwest provides personal and business banking solutions for more than 1.1 million customers across Australia. Our customers enjoy access to an extensive network of branches and business centres, direct and third-party distribution channels, agencies and electronic banking facilities, as well as 24-hour banking on the telephone, internet and the Bankwest App. Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.

Top 5 sectors by refunds to WA customers (14 Apr – 13 May)

Rank Business type Refunds as percentage of customer spend (%) Avg dollar per refund ($) Total refund amount ($)
1 Cruise lines 1,935.3 1,068 317,200
(297 refunds)
2 Travel agencies and tour operators
294.9 738 1,157,300
3 International and domestic airlines
249.8 596 1,970,400
4 Theatrical ticket agencies
176.4 191 534,700
5 Tourist attractions and exhibits
70.2 362 43,400
Rank Business type Refunds as percentage of customer spend (%) Avg dollar per refund ($) Total refund amount ($)
1 Cruise lines 2.5 313 29,100
(93 refunds)
2 Travel agencies and tour operators
2.5 419 287,600
3 International and domestic airlines
2.0 275 236,600
4 Theatrical ticket agencies
0.9 107 31,300
5 Tourist attractions and exhibits
1.9 192 18,600

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