New South Wales’ (NSW) decision on October 15 to lift quarantine requirements for overseas arrivals from November has made clear Australia’s imminent full opening of international borders, however the country’s export tourism industry is still short of a clear date for the reopening.
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has urged the federal government to provide a date and framework for reopening that tourism businesses across the country can use to plan, rebuild distribution partnerships, lock in bookings for 2022, and “help breathe life back into our A$45 billion (US$33.7 billion) industry sector which was crippled by the pandemic”, said ATEC managing director Peter Shelley in a press statement.
ATEC noted that the country’s export tourism industry has suffered 18 months of no revenue.
“Since the announcement by the NSW government last Friday, our members have been fielding enquiries from intending travellers looking to book an Australian holiday or visit their family, but they still can’t make these bookings with any certainty,” said Shelley.
“We simply can’t afford to continue to keep our borders closed to high spending international travellers and miss critical ‘booking windows’ as these people simply will choose to holiday in other competing destinations, putting Australia at the bottom of their bucket list,” he added.
Booking season for the northern hemisphere is fast approaching, with travellers from the US, Europe and the UK looking to escape winter by heading to warmer destinations.
“If we miss this booking window, it will not surface again for another 12 months,” Shelley warned.
He reflected that Australia’s tourism players have a “hard road ahead” to rebuild connections with international markets and reestablish the destination’s presence. A certain “date for the reopening of our international border is therefore both urgent and critical”, he emphasised.
“Now is the time to provide clarity about Australia’s reopening to the world, and offer certainty to our industry, providing a much-needed opportunity for our financially fragile and work-depleted industry to commence the long road to rebuilding what was once Australians second largest export industry,” he said.