Tourism has taken a massive blow with the latest figures showing job losses within the sector have plunged at a rate much faster than the rest of the economy due to raging bushfires and the initial onset of COVID-19.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows tourism-filled jobs for the year ending March 31 fell 3 per cent compared with the same period in 2019, capturing the impact of summer’s devastating bushfire season and the initial lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While tourism jobs fell, economy-wide jobs rose 1.7 per cent over the same period. The data released by the ABS does not reflect the full extent of the COVID-19 financial shutdown in April and May.

According to the ABS, the economy lost 21,000 tourism jobs, with accommodation positions dropping 12.4 per cent from December 2019 to March 2020.

Head of ABS tourism statistics Amanda Clark said the June release would likely show further damage to the sector from the ongoing restrictions placed upon travel and holidaying domestically and internationally.

“Tourism activities tend to be labour intensive and this data shows the impact of the bushfires and the early stages of COVID-19 on the tourism industry,” she said.

On March 20, Australia’s international borders closed to all non-citizens and nonresidents.

Tasmania was the first state to impose mandatory 14-day quarantine to any mainlander or overseas traveller.