Provide clarity over opening Australia’s borders with world: Top tourism body to Oz govt

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May 11, 2021 4:16 PM

A top Australian tourism and transport body has urged the government to provide clarity over opening of the country's borders with the world, warning that the uncertainty would hit the sector hard as a large part of it was dependent on the international market.

travelTourism Minister Dan Tehan described the current times as challenging for the tourism and aviation sector and said it's very hard to determine when the international borders would reopen.

A top Australian tourism and transport body has urged the government to provide clarity over opening of the country’s borders with the world, warning that the uncertainty would hit the sector hard as a large part of it was dependent on the international market. The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), in a tweet on Monday, said the federal government needs to supply them with a very clear calendar, based around the vaccination process, on when the country might open.

“It’s just too hard for the industry at this point in time when we have no certainty over dates, TTF CEO Margy Osmond said in a TV interview on Tuesday. Osmond warned that a large part of the tourism industry was completely exposed to the international market. They’ve got nowhere to go, she said. There’s only so long you can hang from the fly screen doors. We’re going to see an awful lot more failures and I think that is a critical outcome because when we do finally open the door to international tourists again, what on earth are they going to do? Hardly any of those attractions will still be there, Osmond said.

She said that while the New Zealand travel bubble was a hopeful sign, there’s not an awful lot of travelling dollars in that exercise. Tourism Minister Dan Tehan described the current times as challenging for the tourism and aviation sector and said it’s very hard to determine when the international borders would reopen. “My hope is, especially with my tourism hat on, that we’ve been able to set up a tourism bubble with New Zealand and that, hopefully, we will be able to extend some bubbles down the track.

“But it’s going to very much depend on how we’re able to deal with the global pandemic. We’ve seen third waves now in India and on the subcontinent that obviously are very challenging,” he said. “We’ll have to watch and monitor the situation. It’s very hard to tell. And we’ve got to make our best guess when it comes to Treasury analysis for the budget. And I think that we’ve taken a very cautious but sensible approach in what we’ve determined, when it’s most likely that international travel will resume,” the minister said.

Tourism in Australia is one of the key drivers of growth for the Australian economy, with domestic and international tourism spending totalling USD 122 billion in 2018-19. According to reports, Australian tourism’s contribution to the country’s GDP fell from 3.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2020. Minister Tehan had recently urged Australians to take domestic holiday.

Australians typically spend more overseas than foreign tourists spend in Australia, so we want Australians to treat their domestic holiday this year like an overseas trip. “The net impact of Australian tourist spending in Australia was a positive benefit to the economy of around USD 7.5 billion in the December quarter; and in 2019, holidays of five nights or longer contributed USD 31.8 billion to the economy, he said.

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