The projected domestic tourism uptick due to coronavirus international travel restrictions has fuelled a sharp rise in interest for overland walking tours. The Australian Walking Company (incorporating the Tasmanian Walking Company) has seen a “stronger than anticipated” rebound following the easing of self-isolation and intrastate movements.
The travel company’s Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk in Victoria will resume operation on 4 July and its collection of Tasmanian walks are earmarked to commence in the peak of winter in mid-July.
Heath Garratt, General Manager of The Australian Walking Company, told LATTE that Tasmania is proving to be hot and in particular one of the country’s most iconic walking trails, Cradle Mountain Huts Walk which encompasses the Overland Track. Also in Tasmania, the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk is luring lots of new interest.
The feedback supports Roy Morgan’s research, which suggests that the overseas holiday plans of over two million Australians have been thwarted and present a “huge opportunity” for local travel and tourism operators.
On Thursday [17 June 2020], the Tasmanian Government further eased COVID-19 restrictions in the state, enabling larger groups to participate in a range of activities and accommodation venues and up to 20 people at B&Bs and short-stay accommodation. A specific date for when Tasmania’s border restrictions will be lifted will be announced next week, Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein said.
Garratt said that some of the trends for new bookings and enquiries have included walking tours that enable participants to reconnect with friends, making up for lost time.
“We are seeing group bookings with friends wanting to reconnect on an epic experience in the wilderness and couples fulfilling bucket list items,” Garratt said.
“We are finding that because Aussies are unable to travel overseas they are remembering the exciting extraordinary and enchanting experiences they have in their own backyard. Aussies have Australia to themselves again… even if it’s just for a brief time and they are taking advantage of that.”
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has also seen the Tasmanian Walking Company introduce a 24-month Booking Guarantee, valid on new reservations made up until 31 July 2020. The guarantee applies to guests with bookings directly impacted COVID-19 i.e. those diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to their departure date; those who are directed by a government official or medical practitioner to self-isolate for any reason associated with COVID-19; or if a government COVID-19 policy (domestic or foreign) relevant to the client’s residential address or travel circumstances directly impacts their capacity to travel.
Offering peace of mind, the no deposit policy has been retrospectively applied for all bookings made prior to 26 May 2020 for walks in 2020 and 2021. More details here.
Image credit: Tasmanian Walking Company