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Australian Tourism Export Council calls for Prime Minister for roadmap to open borders

Australian Tourism Export Council calls for Prime Minister for roadmap to open borders
May 27, 2021

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has written directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, pleading for a framework for reopening the nation’s borders - despite a public opinion poll showing that the overwhelming majority of Australians support the international borders remaining shut.

Almost three in four voters (73%) surveyed in an exclusive Newspoll for The Australian recently felt that international borders should remain closed until at least the middle of next year. They supported the government’s approach. Given such a level of support, many wonder what could persuade the government to change tack before the next election.

By contrast, the letter from ATEC, Managing Director, Peter Shelley, highlights that the tourism’s survival is at stake.

ATEC’s letter reads as follows:

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister - Seeking a Reopening Plan for Australia

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you to seek urgent clarity on your plan for reopening our international borders and reconnecting Australian businesses to the global economy.

As we pass by yet another month of closures and continuing uncertainty, tourism export businesses are dismayed at the Federal Government’s lack of clarity or concern around setting a framework for reopening.

While the industry fully understands the importance of protecting the health of the Australian community, there is a desperate need for businesses to identify a clear roadmap by which they can plan and strategise for the future inbound tourism marketplace.

There is also significant concern at the slow rate at which the Government is applying more sophisticated, multi-layered risk management processes that enables Australia to manage the COVID-19 risk offshore.  Managing this risk through extensive pre-departure testing, tracking and tracing technology will minimise the chance of COVID-19 entering Australia and in doing so, avoid the significant costs incurred in managing the exposure to the community which we are experiencing through the current on-shore quarantine processes.

Tourism snapshot 2018. A reminder of the boom times when the borders were open

The impacts on pure export tourism businesses are direct and clear - without international visitors they have no clients, no income and increasingly, no future.  More broadly for the tourism industry and many others, closed borders mean not only a limited client base but chronic staff shortages and the increasing risk of disconnection from the global marketplace and future growth opportunities.

While some businesses in our industry are surviving with an increase in domestic travel, this surge is short term and will no doubt change dramatically once our borders reopen and Australians can travel overseas again.  We simply can’t afford to be complacent and accept this short term situation as a long term comfort.  Without international visitors, our industry will slip, taking us back to a period where Australia was seen internationally as an expensive, inaccessible and unsophisticated destination.

We urge the Government to come forth quickly with a framework for reopening, one that outlines the conditions under which our borders will begin to open and one that recognises that Australia needs to get back in the game of international trade before we lose ground to those countries which have been able to vaccinate their citizens and move forward with rebuilding their economies and international engagement.

We look forward to your urgent response.

Peter Shelley, Managing Director, Australian Tourism Export Council

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21st April 2021 - Victorian Government releases $633 million ‘roadmap’ funding to boost tourism and major events

15th April 2021 - Tourism Australia reveals extra support for the business events sector

14th April 2021 - Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into tourism and events support hears plea to save ‘industry in crisis’

1st April 2021 - Queensland Government ends Brisbane’s lockdown but Easter tourism still impacted

1st April 2021 - Tourism bodies cite thousands of lost jobs following end of JobKeeper

25th March 2021 - Tourism and hospitality sector calls for cash boost payments and tax relief

16th November 2020 - Australian Tourism Industry Council urges Prime Minister to take on tourism


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