Travel and tourism organisations around Australia have shown solidarity, backing an open letter to State Premiers and Chief Ministers urging interstate borders to remain open.
The crusade is being led by Baillie Lodges’ Founders, James & Hayley Baillie. (James is also the Director and Chair of the Luxury Lodges of Australia). Since the campaign’s launch days ago, there has been a groundswell of support with 150 tourism executives endorsing the message so far.
The ‘Save Australian Tourism’ petition centres on the seriousness of the coronavirus health crisis impacting the country and the subsequent state and territory border rulings.
“Until now, the tourism industry has, as a collective, remained optimistic in the belief that better times are ahead. The industry has worked diligently to keep up the positive stories and to communicate with our local and overseas guests, all with an underlying objective to keep our employees at work and our businesses sustainable.
The letter continues, saying: “Tourism Australia and the state tourism organisations have each done commendable jobs providing industry operators with up-to-date information and convincing Australians to holiday at home, to take road trips, to discover our own backyard.”
This should have been our moment, as Australian tourism operators, to welcome a whole new domestic market to experience our destinations and products, with direct benefit to the local economies and communities they support.
Despite tourism businesses needing to downsize – and some prepared to close to guests for up to six months – the open letter says consumers had recently begun to feel confident, and operators had seen positive signs of pent-up demand and confirmed forward bookings. That was, however, up until recent border tightening.
“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. Guests who had previously been prepared to postpone travel have now cancelled in light of the latest announcements on long term border closures.”
The paper says border closures have eroded confidence in the domestic tourism product and threaten to result in “serious, long-term damage to Australian tourism as a result.”
There is rising concern that when international borders do reopen, the tourism industry won’t have a large enough workforce to be able to handle the inbound tourist influx.
The petition calls for interstate borders to remain open to provide certainty for domestic travel into the future.
Support has come from across the industry, big and small companies, including Graham ‘Scroo’ Turner, CEO Flight Centre Travel Group; Cinzia and Andrew Burnes, Executive Director & CEO of Helloworld Travel; Michael Londregan, Group GM Virtuoso; and executives from Abercrombie & Kent, Luxury Lodges of Australia, True North, Spicers Retreats, Latitude 33 Luxury Tours, APT Travel Group, Journey Beyond, Luxury Escapes, Experience Co and multiple accommodation providers, tour operators and tourism organisations.
“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,” the paper concludes.
To view the letter in full and to throw your support behind the campaign, add your name to the growing list at saveaustraliantourism.com.
The ‘Save Australian Tourism’ message comes as a coalition of associations also urged the government to develop consistent domestic border guidelines.