Fighting novel coronavirus with strict lockdown and social distancing norms, world has witnessed massive challenge in sustaining economic growth, financial markets, businesses and households. With grounded airlines and travel bans amidst border closures, travel and tourism has been hard hit by the dramatic consequences.
Ironically, as we mentally grew more rational towards our financial management, our spirits crave to live the life to the fullest. The flashbacks of euphoric adrenaline rush during Alpine skiing, or the crisp scent of the sea breeze for the business/family travel plans make us want to dive back into our past experiences. And meanwhile, the solemn faces of the economists send us back to gauge our financial checklist.
The two seemingly mutually exclusive choices cultivating together is giving rise to the conservative delight. The lockdown weary Australians are looking for the solutions that may vanquish their mental exhaustion while not burning a hole in their pockets. Amidst the ongoing tussle between the financial and cognitive state, potential opening up of domestic tourism appears to be the answer for the Australian woes.
Besides, opening up of the sector is anticipated to compensate for lost jobs, aiding balance sheets of struggling sector and incomes of huge employee base.
That leaves the question lingering on recommencement and performance of the domestic tourism in the near upcoming time. The successful virus containments stories of the nation and its neighbouring Kiwiland seems to be setting up the stage for the anticipated revival of domestic tourism in Australia.
Talks on the Trans-Tasman Travel
Many Australians are back to work, indicating the healing process for the economy has commenced. In the meantime, travel and tourism sector which was the first to come under the radar yet awaits its reopening. The overseas travel restrictions would largely depend upon the ongoing international Covid-19 success. However, the surged possibility for Australia and New Zealand Travel Bubble has flared hopes for the tour operators of the two island nations.
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PM Scott Morrison indicating the travel bubble as “part of the road back” hinted the possibility of flagging it sometime away. The ongoing talks on Trans-Tasman travel are also sending positive wave for domestic travel in the country.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce in a statement said: “restrictions on domestic travel are likely to lift well before international travel”. It indicates the Australian domestic tour operators are likely to be the first to cash in the gains before Trans-Tasman travel takes up the full force.
Flattening Covid-19 Curve
Australia is one of the very few countries radiating optimism as it gradually charts outs its transition out of the Covid-19 crisis. The low infection rate and the flattening Covid-19 curve have boosted confidence in the economic revival of the country. Many businesses have restarted their operations, although the state travel bans have restricted travel in Australia.
While Victoria and New South Wales still follow the restrictive protocols, the other Australian states are at the much-advanced stage of recovery. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham said that interstate borders indicated prospects for domestic travel recommencement in near term.
PM Morrison stated that the government is working on getting 1 million Australians back to work while highlighting the goal to achieve ‘sustainable and Covid-19 safe economy’ by July. The three-phased reopening plan is expected to gradually yet safely kickstart the economy without propelling the second wave of infection. PM also hinted on working with businesses such as restaurants, tourism, etc. both from the perspective of safety and funding.
Tourism Integrated in the Australian Style of Living
Australian fervour for the extreme sports, adventure and unique experience has successfully driven the tourism expenditure by the nationals over the years.
Australians spent 152.4 Billion on total tourism for the year ending December 2019. At the same time, Australian domestic night travel has performed considerably well during the period as 117.4 million visitors in 2019 increased the spending by 12% to $80.7 billion.
The high standard of living along with the infrastructural advantages put the people in a better position to uptake the holidays. Moreover, the full-time workers annually are entitled to paid annual leave of four weeks which has further boosted the travel culture among the Aussies.
The current Australian way of living is expected to provide a positive nudge to the domestic travel amidst the time when international travel is closed. Reverberating the similar positive sentiments for the tourism industry in the future, Mr Simon Westway, Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director, said that the tourism industry revived effectively post the bushfire before the pandemic gripped the nation.
Strategic Initiatives by the Travel Industry
The travel businesses are keen on restoring the operations safely in the Covid-19 scenario. The use of digital technologies is mostly playing a critical role in taking initial steps of recovery.
Tourism Australia is set to start the live-stream campaign ‘The Love Australia Project’ from 15 May 2020, which is expected to promote tourism in the country. At the same time, Tourism Accommodation Australia is working towards online training of the hotel staff.
Innovativeness in the travel could be another critical element that could ensure the sustainability of the travel industry. Mr Westway, talking on the people apprehensions about the safety of travel indicated that amidst such time ‘caravanning industry’ or ‘drive tourism’ can get a significant boost.
Virgin Australia sought voluntary administration to sustain in the rocky Covid-19 journey. For riding its way through the pandemic, the airline prices have also dropped significantly.
Qantas Group, in the face of Covid-19 worries, announced ‘Tourism Blitz’ which would lower the air travel cost by 30%. It would prompt more Australians to pack their travel bags despite the economic uncertainties.
Prospects of Supplementary Businesses reopening.
The travel industry operates through the integration of different supporting businesses that allows travellers access to varying services and products. The hospitality sector incorporating hotels along with the cafés, pubs, etc. are gearing nearer towards reopening.
In an effort to kickstart the hospitality industry, Restaurant and Catering Australia proposed plans to government that would ensure the safety of the diners. In the meantime, the Australian Hotels Association also proposed to restart the hospitality services. The Hotel Association indicating the infeasibility of the ‘four-square-metre rule’ for the industry also advocated ‘a one in two square metre rule’ that would comply with the safety requirements without hampering the business.
The current budding environment is generating hopes for the domestic travel industry. However, the threat of second wave of virus spread and the possible shoot up in the Covid-19 cases can backfire the mushrooming aspirations of the industry players. International tourism, on the other hand, has yet to see how the global coronavirus scenario pans out in the coming months.