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Leading tourism stakeholders call on Australian Government to provide clear recovery roadmap

Leading tourism stakeholders call on Australian Government to provide clear recovery roadmap
September 25, 2020

A number of Australia’s leading tourism stakeholders have today called on the Australian Government to provide a clear roadmap to travel restrictions easing - highlighting that the confusion has been devastating for both travel operators and travellers. 

The comments were delivered at a virtual travel panel hosted by Club Med earlier today, with travel industry panellists including Rachael Harding, General Manager Pacific, Club Med; Susan Coghill, Chief Marketing Officer, Tourism Australia; Richard Jones, Regional Head of Marketing and Sales, Cathay Pacific; and Sam Evans, Travel Content Creator.

With over 9.5 million Australian’s travelling internationally each year, the panel stressed that while travel bubbles are a start, they are not a long-term solution.  The industry will not rebound until international borders are open again and free movement is possible.  

Harding advised “the latest travel ban extension has been the biggest call yet with the highest stakes because consumers don’t know if they should hold onto their Christmas holiday dreams or start planning for the alternative which is causing a lot of additional pressure.

“We need to start factoring in not just the financial cost, but also emotional and mental impacts of these ongoing bans.”  

Jones added “we need to learn how we can travel safely again and how we can live with this better, because it’s not going anywhere. If we adopted the restrictions of one of the existing travel bubbles such as the NBA, I don’t think people would enjoy travelling, because it would be too restrictive.”  

Coghill called the restrictions ‘devastating’ for Australia’s nation of travellers as well as travel operators suffering the “double whammy” of bushfires last summer season but remained optimistic about our ability to recover.

“Travel demand will return and as soon as it does, Tourism Australia will be ready to go back and go back at scale,” Coghill said. “We know the recovery can be as fast as the decline and it remains critical to our industry, worth $45.2 billion in 2019.”

The panellists unanimously agreed that Australians have not lost their love of travel, with travel operators still seeing positive signs that reflect our resilient travel market.  Despite the restrictions many Australians are still dreaming and planning their next holiday, as well as holding onto flights for January onwards, in the hope that restrictions will ease.  

Harding commented that “a whopping 95% of respondents in our recent travel sentiment survey said they would like to travel internationally within the next two years”, with Coghill adding “our stats show, 59% of Australian travellers are considering or would be travelling in Australia if there were no restrictions. 55% of Australian travellers are intending to take a domestic trip in the next six months, with over half of those saying they really need a holiday.”  

All panellists agreed the priorities of travellers has changed, with safety and hygiene now being the top consideration.  

Jones noted “hygiene will be the differentiator for travel operators in the future and it will be up to us to provide the reassurance to travellers across all points of the journey.”

Harding went on to say that “to meet the appetite of those longing for an overseas holiday, travel providers need to provide the confidence to book.

“Flexibility will be the highest currency in the future, we need to evolve our policies to be risk free for customers until such a time as we are feeling comfortable to travel again with no apprehension.”

With the announcements on international travel occurring in three-month increments, the travel industry now waits nervously for a government update on the Easter holiday period next year.  

Jones concluded “we need transparency and consistency on how decisions are made to aid planning for both business and consumers.

“It would be nice to have a heads-up so operators can adequately prepare to welcome travellers once again.”

Image: Club Med Turkoise

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