- Australia’s travel sector certainly needs a rebound after being isolated from the world for over two years.
- Good news awaits travel-hungry Aussies as Hong Kong lifts its ban on Australian tourists.
- The Australian government has planned to fund tour arrangement service providers and travel agents under the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.
After being temporarily at a standstill, Australia’s travel sector certainly needs a rebound. Interestingly, Aussie travellers have some crucial news to rejoice after the country became fully open to international tourists. These morale-boosting developments by the Hong Kong authorities and the domestic government could bring some life back into the travel sector.
Australian authorities placed some of the toughest and most stringent restrictions on its citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions prevailed even as the economy was slowly moving away from the clutches of the virus.
Australia’s COVID-appropriate protocols continued long after many other nations relaxed their restrictions. The highly conservative approach taken by the government received massive backlash from the population, with many protestors taking to the streets.
However, as the economy advances into 2022, the Australian travel and tourism segment might see a massive makeover. Interestingly, Hong Kong could become a welcoming destination for Aussies planning to holiday abroad in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Australian government has also introduced new funding for domestic businesses awaiting foreign travellers.
As international tourists are welcomed into the country, many travel businesses appear well-positioned to be able to recover their losses during the pandemic.
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New funding by Australian Government
The Federal Government has decided to release the remaining AU$75.5 million pledged under the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program (CTSP) to support travel agents and the overall tourism industry. This would mark the third round of grants for travel agents and tour providers in the country. Under the program, grants ranging from AU$7,500 to AU$90,000 would be provided to eligible agents and tour providers.
Notably, the program has been implemented at a crucial time when many Australians are slowly starting to travel and book holidays. The grants are expected to help those seeking assistance from domestic travel agents and guides. Specifically, tour arrangement service providers and travel agents would be able to meet the ongoing costs of running their operations, manage re-bookings and provide customers with good quality service.
Eligible travel agents can also bring their lost employee base back into the workforce with the grant money in hand. A total of AU$184 million has been offered to eligible businesses under the program. This includes 5,455 grants being issued to around 3,233 tour arrangement service providers and travel agents.
The applications for the third round of grants will open from 29 March to 20 April. Businesses that have received CTSP Round 2 or Round 2 Multi-outlet payment can apply for the third round of the program. The decision by the government has come after two years of lobbying and campaigning from the travel sector. With this initiative, travel professionals could finally be looking at a rebound in their balance sheets.
Hong Kong lifts flight ban
Hong Kong has planned to lift its ban on Australian flights as it seeks to relax its COVID-19 measures next month. Australia is one of the nine countries that would reap the benefits of easing border restrictions in Hong Kong, including a reduction in quarantine time.
Hong Kong’s announcement has come at a time when Chinese authorities have implemented strict restrictions on locals while halting business activities in the country. Hong Kong residents have also seen a stringent set of rules and regulations, some of which have been in place for over two years.
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As countries aim to develop a strategy to “live with the virus”, the ban on international travel only increases the problem and takes Hong Kong further away from normalisation. Thus, lifting the international travel ban seems ideal for the economy, where government and businesses are embracing appropriate measures to bring back normalcy.
Hong Kong plans to lift the ban from 1 April onwards, allowing the residents from Britain, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the US to visit the country.