Scott Morrison has dismissed widespread criticism of his $1.2 billion stimulus package for the shattered tourism industry.
The prime minister is offering 800,000 discounted airline tickets as well as loans for struggling tourism operators, designed to ease the pain when JobKeeper wage subsidies end this month.
The major airlines have lauded the half-price return flights to more than a dozen regional tourism destinations.
But Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner says the $1.2 billion package will do little for the tourism industry.
"It is a very small, very meagre package at best," he said on Thursday.
"I don't think this is going to help at all, really. It is about the borders. Keeping the domestic borders open and getting the international borders open as soon as possible."
Tourism industry groups have also complained about the size of the package.
Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum says cheap flights are a good start, but nowhere near enough to save wider tourism jobs.
She wants a simply administered wage subsidy scheme targeted at the sector alongside dedicated cash boosts to stave off mass job losses.
"From accommodation providers and tourism operators through to transport companies, attraction operators, business event organisers and cultural organisations, many businesses are at the wall," Ms Osmond said.
An estimated 800,000 government-subsidised tickets will be offered over the scheme's duration which includes the Easter and winter school holidays.
Return flights to eligible locations will receive a 50 per cent discount between April 1 and July 31.
Initially, the government has listed Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region including Proserpine and Hamilton Island and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Lasseter and Alice Springs in the NT, the Tasmanian towns of Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome in WA, Avalon near Melbourne, Merimbula in NSW and SA's Kangaroo Island are also included.
Some state premiers are deeply unimpressed with the plan.
Queensland wants more support for intrastate travel while Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino argues "the numbers speak for themselves".
"Five in Queensland, three in Tassie, two in the Northern Territory, just one in Victoria," he told reporters.
"It is not fair and we are disappointed."
Mr Morrison said the airfares would help Australians support tourism operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines doing it tough during the pandemic.
"This is our ticket to recovery," he said.
"This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard."
But Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the "very narrow package" contained little support beyond the aviation sector.
Qantas, Virgin and a handful of smaller regional carriers will be the main beneficiaries, with airlines that have operated on the routes for the past two years eligible.
Business loans of up to 10 years with a two-year principal and interest repayment holiday will be available between April and the end of the year for small and medium firms that graduated from JobKeeper this year.
The maximum loan will be increased from $1 million to $5 million and businesses with a turnover of $250 million will be eligible.
"Our tourism businesses don't want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back," the prime minister said.
The package also includes support to keep 8600 international aviation workers employed between April and the end of October, the earliest chance for flights overseas to resume.
In return, airlines will need to assure the government every month planes will be ready to take off when needed.
Airport security charges and other domestic flight operations charges will continue to be waived, while support will be extended for air freight exports.
Australian Associated Press