Plea launched for Australian state governments to reopen borders

Kangaroo at Lucky Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park near Esperance, Western Australia

Australian tourism players have come together to launch a grassroots campaign imploring the nation’s state premiers and chief ministers to reopen interstate borders to allow the rebuilding of domestic tourism.

As part of the #SaveAussieTourism campaign, which was started by Baillie Lodges COO Craig Bradbery, an open letter has been written to the state’s leaders addressing the ongoing changes to interstate travel restrictions, which has thrown a spanner into the recovery plans of the industry.

Ongoing border closures have devastated Australian tourism businesses; a kangaroo at Lucky Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park near Esperance, Western Australia pictured

“The events of recent weeks, in particular the ongoing changes to policies around borders and access to interstate travellers, have resulted in crippling uncertainty among tourism operators and would-be travellers alike,” the letter reads.

“Guests who had previously been prepared to postpone travel have now cancelled in light of the latest announcements on long-term border closures. Fundamentally, we have seen these decisions erode confidence in the domestic tourism product and foresee serious, long-term damage to Australian tourism as a result.”

The letter, which was written by Bradbery, also highlighted the multiplier effect of tourism on employment in other sectors.

“This is an industry that directly employs over five per cent of the nation’s workforce or around 660,000 Australians, with millions more indirectly employed in or reliant on the tourism industry. This effective shutdown of the industry affects tourism businesses such as hotels, airlines, tour operators, travel agencies and attractions, as well as a wide range of other businesses which supply tourism operators or who benefit from visitors’ spending, particularly in regional Australia,” it reads.

“This includes many small independent businesses such as bakeries, wineries, farmers, local food stores, fuel stations, support services and art galleries. The regional spread of people and businesses impacted reaches deep into every electorate across the country.”

In the letter, Bradbery also stressed that the continued closure of interstate borders will mean that when international borders reopen down the road, a diminished tourism industry will struggle to accommodate the number of international visitors that Australia needs to bolster her economy.

It concludes: “We need interstate borders to remain open. We need certainty that domestic travel is accessible so that Australians can recommence making travel plans and so we can get employees and businesses back to work.

“We implore you now to desist from making announcements that erode this confidence; we implore you to stop spending public money on border closures. We implore you to work quickly and collaboratively with neighbouring states to install screening protocols for travellers and to implement logical solutions which will allow interstate travel to recommence in a safe and sustainable manner.”

As of publish time, the open letter has been endorsed by nearly 500 industry players representing hotels, tour operators, accommodation, attractions, airlines and airports, vehicle rental companies, and more.

Signatories to date include tourism leaders like Flight Centre Travel Group CEO Graham Turner, Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton, as well as Helloworld Travel executive director and CEO Cinzia and Andrew Burnes.

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