- Most Australian travellers are puzzled over travel offers and discounts pouring in.
- The deals come with pros and cons and a due diligence before locking money away is hence suggested.
- Authorities are tight-lipped on the border reopening, though the possibility to resume international travel remains in the latter half of 2021.
Coronavirus vaccine announcements have brought in some cheer in the wind in the tourism industry. When the vaccine finally rolls out, travellers can plan for the many missed international tours this year.
It is raining packages for the travel enthusiasts in Australia. The state borders are slowly reopening, and many airlines are increasing their flight schedules. Qantas flight numbers have surged while the number of Virgin Australia flights has also accelerated sharply.
A revamped Virgin Australia airline intends to target the "mid-market". Newly joined Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive Jayne Hrdlicka launched a strategic review of the airline's business class section. Besides, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce informed the public that the airline could be making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all Qantas international passengers, and most likely for domestic travellers too.
So, the question remains- Is now the right time to ponder over international trips and grab hold of low-cost, flexible international travel packages, or it is too early for it?
A half-priced trip to Bali or perhaps a cruise tour to Miami-is it even possible? As the coronavirus pandemic shelved travel plans for many around the globe, travel & tourism, hospitality industries suffered immensely. Now with the lockdown restrictions easing up, a sense of normalcy is injecting in the air.
In order to get back in the field, companies are trying to offer cheap deals that can be redeemed in the new year. From affordable flight tickets to flexible accommodation packers to sightseeing tours with massive offers and discounts, travel lovers are bombarded with the shower of lucrative packages.
However, people are still cautious before putting their money on international travel. The state borders are slowly reopening in Australia; the unexpected and sudden border closure may not provide the customers with a full refund. Some tourists are also unsure if buying tour packages to unveil after 10-11 months is a wise option.
Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020
Innovative deals & offers on cards
International borders are still sealed. There is no update from authorities on when they plan on reopening. Amid such uncertainties, booking trips such advance in time might not be a lucrative option for many.
Even amid such uncertainties, while domestic travel packages continue to dominate the market, a good number of offers are pouring in for international travel. Notably, many are offering validity for a year or two from the time of purchase.
Many opine that such deals seem to be safe options to go for. For instance, there is one deal which offers a holiday in Maldives for under $1000 per person, that can be availed until the end of 2022! Some tour agents are even offering a full refund if customers cancel bookings 14 days prior to departure. However, sudden border closures right before the trip date might not be able to fetch any refund.
Even though companies are offering cash refunds or a credit on cancellations considering the unpredictable times, it is essential for customers to diligently read through the company's terms and conditions to avoid any disappointments.
Another aspect to look at is what happens to the booking amount if the booked ticket is not availed in the valid period. The terms and conditions vary from the company to the company. Instead of a cash refund, the airlines may ask customers to reschedule the air ticket to another date which many not be suitable for customer’s needs.
Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020
Would you spend your money merely on possibilities?
With international travel beyond consideration for many months now, Australians have been visiting domestic destinations. Sadly, offers for refunds and cancellations are not applicable for most domestic flights. Having said so, if state borders are closed again, customers are likely to lose their money.
Insurance is another problem. None of the Australian insurance companies are offering robust protection for cancellations occurred due to coronavirus related situations.
However, one must not miss the silver linings!
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham hinted that Australians might be able to travel overseas next year. Birmingham said that there is a possibility for international holidays in 2021. However, much of it depends on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
With less than a month left to enter the new year, international travel in the first six months of 2021 could continue to be challenging. Borders may be reopened to resume overseas trip in the latter half of the year. Once the vaccine is approved, the rollout, distribution and many such factors will come in place before the borders are opened.
The government has an agreement with five companies working on COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, the quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand is also progressing.