Taskforce timetable supported “overwhelmingly”

Priorities include state border openings, JobKeeper extension and overseas travel

A proposed timeline for the restart of Australia’s domestic tourism and hospitality industries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic disruptions has been well received, according to an update by the Tourism Restart Taskforce.

Unveiled by the Australian Chamber of Commerce last month, the timetable revolves around three phases in the rebound process – Hibernation, Immediate Restart and Medium/Long Term Recovery – and pinpoints key segments such as dining, pubs, business events, domestic and international travel (including cruising), along with tourist attractions, ticketed events and cultural institutions.

The suggested timetable is spread over six steps (key dates), the first of which has already elapsed (8 May), and subsequent steps on 5 June, 1 July (trans-Tasman flights), 10 September, 15 October and 15 December.

Key notes following the 29 May meeting by the group of travel and tourism heavyweights state that  “the feedback from industry had been positive”. The proposed restart timing for events of over 100 people (September for business events and mid-October for ticketed events) was questioned by some.

For now, however, the “priority issue” for the Taskforce is the closure of state borders and the reopening of international travel.

“It was concerning that a number of state governments had shifted from the arguments that is is based on health advice to justification built around the number of their own citizens that holidayed interstate, and the opportunity for them to holiday at home.”

“This was questionable as the drivers in the choice of holiday destination did not always lead to a substitution, and that it was unlikely that people would spend as much on holidays within their state resulting in a reduction in tourism spend overall,” the publicly available notes from the Australian Chamber Tourism state.

A “fundamental issue” for the Taskforce is now centred on the opening of state borders to encourage domestic tourism and to restart the bounce back.

Other talking points from the last meeting included Australia’s NBN connection and coverage. It was highlighted that for Australia to be competitive with other competing business events countries, NBN speed will need to be improved for hosts of hybrid ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ events in the future.

The extension of the JobKeeper scheme for tourism was viewed as “one of the highest priorities”.

At last Friday’s meeting [5 June] the Taskforce agreed to update its timetable to bring forward the restart of ticketed events to September. The group also noted that based on comments by New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern on how Australia was handling the management of COVID-19 that the propsoed 1 July launch date of the transTasman Travel Bubble was “too early to commit to at this stage”.

“The main objective of releasing the proposal was to encourage governments to bring forward the restart of international travel between Australia and NZ so that the first flight recommenced no later than July,” the Tourism Restart Taskforce notes state.

The Taskforce will next meet on Friday 19 June.

Lead image: Forrester Station, Alpha | Credit: Tobias Keller Unsplash

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