Australia’s tourism industry needs certainty, guidance and commitment to keep the borders open from all levels of government in light of the new omicron COVID variant and any future variants.
The industry is poised to welcome back international visitors and, while the Federal Government is taking a cautious approach to omicron, uncertainty around how governments will respond to the new and future threats will dampen tourism’s restart.
“The impact on the travelling consumer and the tourism industry is significant whenever there is a change to arrangements, but pleasingly the Federal Government looks to be committed to the timeline for reopening our international borders,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley says.
“Recently, just as the industry had begun welcoming visitors from Singapore, travel was suspended and all arrivals were required to self-isolate for 72 hrs. While the tourism industry can understand the cautious approach taken this sudden advice forced tourism businesses to make urgent changes to itineraries at significant expense in order to accommodate their clients.
“Changing rules from extending the biosecurity ban to the way states have been marking cities and regions as ‘hot spots’, and sudden state border restrictions have made planning in the travel industry impossible.
Mr Shelley said decisions by NSW and Victorian Governments to stick to their reopening plans, and from the Queensland Government and Tasmania to push forward with their reopening, and the recent announcement by Western Australia to reopen to the rest of Australia early next year are all welcome signs for the industry as it embarks on a long slow recovery.
“The past 18 months have proven to both travellers and tourism businesses that things can change without warning and this has made everyone very nervous and eroded consumer confidence to travel.
“Right now, in light of the omicron variant, we need a steady hand from governments who must show tolerance of what may be the beginning of a range of new COVID variants.
“The industry and consumers need signs of confidence from our governments that they can get on with the game and start to operate with certainty.
“The tourism industry cannot sustain a start–stop approach, particularly those businesses which are organising international travellers who are coming here to enjoy Australia’s tourism experiences.