Category Archives: opinion

Coronavirus crisis a ‘heaven-sent opportunity’ to reset national park tourism, advocates say

As a national parks advocate, Nick Sawyer has been more frustrated than most by the coronavirus-crisis park closures, but he’s seeing them as a chance to rethink tourism.

Key points:

  • There are calls for a more sustainable use of reopening National Parks with less overcrowding rather than new infrastructure
  • Sustainability is seen as an important factor, with an industry less reliance on cruise ships and planes
  • Family and friends visiting each other will be the first wave of tourism recovery as the mode, price and destination of travel changes

Mr Sawyer, president of Tasmania’s National Parks Association, has witnessed the boom in the state’s industry in recent years, as its natural wonders like Cradle Mountain and Wineglass Bay draw tourists from the mainland and around the globe.

He thinks the pandemic shutdown of Australia’s parks and the devastation of the tourism industry should be seized as an opportunity to look outside the box as we rebuild. “This is a heaven-sent opportunity to rethink the whole approach,” he said.

For Mr Sawyer, better ways of managing the return of tourists and eventually their booming numbers won’t necessarily mean more infrastructure, like dedicated walkways, viewing platforms and handrails.

“For example, the very popular Wineglass Bay lookout [in Tasmania] is becoming too crowded, so the response [has been to consider building] a second lookout nearby,” he said.

“You don’t need a second lookout.

“You could try and space the tourists more evenly over the course of the day, thereby avoiding the worst of the crowding and giving them a much better experience.”

Tourists take photos from the Wineglass Bay lookout
One suggestion is that tourist numbers at popular places like Wineglass Bay in Tasmania should be regulated rather than new viewing points opened.(ABC News: David Hudspeth)

He points to shuttle bus systems as an example of a way visitor numbers could be managed at Wineglass Bay, to “avoid having to expand the car park, yet again”.

Mr Sawyer is among a growing number of voices suggesting the reopening of national parks across Australia presents an opportunity for a reset in the way Australia’s natural wonders are managed.

Nicholas Sawyer in front of mountain.
Nick Sawyer says the re-opening of parks is an opportunity to be more sustainable.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said the reopening of parks would ignite people’s interest in new ways of travelling.

“There has been a rising interest in sustainability, and making sure you leave a light footprint when you travel,” she said.

“We think this is going to accelerate people’s desire to travel more sustainably.”

University of Queensland Associate Professor Judith Mair said the pandemic had highlighted a myriad of ways Australia’s tourism industry could be more sustainable, and not just when it came to tackling overcrowding.

“It might be putting too much reliance on one sole market, it might be relying too much on cruise tourists, it might be involving the local community in decision-making,” she said.

“There are a lot of ways in which tourism could come back better than it was before.”

Tasmanian wildlife park operator Gena Cantwell said a financially sustainable attraction was now front-of-mind.

Her park relied on the 40 cruise ships that were visiting Tasmania’s north-west each year before an outbreak of coronavirus at the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie forced the strictest lock-down measures in the country.

Ms Cantwell said she was forced to stand down some staff, and look for ways to retain keepers and feed animals.

“It was horrible. It was probably one of the hardest days that we had to deal with here,” she said.

“It will always be in the back of our minds about how something like this can affect us so broadly.

“It was surprising how quickly a virus can bring everything unstuck.”

Woman cuddling an animal.
Gena Cantwell from Wing’s Wildlife Park in Tasmania’s north-west relied on the cruise ship industry before the corona outbreak.(ABC News: Alison Branley)

After lockdown ends she said she would look to the local market, and locals’ relatives, to help reopen the operation, but could not envision staff numbers increasing for some time.

“I don’t imagine that the international tourists or even the mainland tourists are going to come in any hurry,” she said.

“They’re going to be a little bit scared, so we’re just going to have to look and focus on what we can do for our local market and our staff. “I think our tourism bodies are going to have to do a fair bit of damage control.”

Tourism Australia said it was on the case, but the price, destination and mode of tourism travel would change.

“We really are looking to our domestic market to get our industry back on their feet again,” Ms Harrison said.

“We probably will see for a little while people wanting to control their own environment a little more, so we do expect to see people staying a little closer to home and taking their own transport.”

That might mean people using hire cars over planes and buses, or choosing short-stay accommodation over hotels and buffet breakfasts.

“This is a new normal for tourist operators,” she said.

“They are going to have to work out how they can run their businesses economically and work out how they make money with the new regulations around social distancing.”

ED: There are plenty of operators in the youth and adventure sector who use/rely on National Parks for their business. Anyone care to comment on the article?

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Temporary visa holders hit hard by coronavirus shutdowns turn to charities

There are concerns some temporary visa holders who’ve lost work in the Riverina area because of coronavirus shutdowns can’t afford basic necessities and are facing homelessness and destitution.

The Red Cross said the Riverina Murray region had one of the largest temporary visa workforces in the country and many had no access to financial support.

Key points:

  • The Red Cross is concerned about temporary visa holders who can’t afford basic necessities
  • Many aren’t eligible for government support schemes and are turning to charities for help
  • The Riverina Murray region has one of the largest temporary visa workforces in the country

Riverina regional manager of migration support programs Neil Barber said more people were turning to charities for help.

“Even if they’ve been here for years working or studying and paying tax, they’re not eligible for a lot of the services available to most people in Australia like Centrelink,” Mr Barber said.

“Many of them have been reliant on people they know in the community who have more resources, utilising savings or seeking support from home where they can get it.”

“They’ve also been turning in increasing numbers to various charities, such as the Salvation Army, Anglicare and St Vincent De Paul.

The Red Cross has been given $7 million by the Federal Government to help temporary visa holders in desperate need.

“When the program was announced in mid-April there were over 8,000 inquiries nationally,” Mr Barber said.

He said there had been a steady increase in people on bridging visas, skilled migrants, students and backpackers needing help in the Riverina Murray but said some may need more help.

“This is emergency relief, it’s not income support,” he said.

“It’s a one-off payment when they’re really struggling with food, medicine or shelter so depending on how long they’re disadvantaged for, there may be need for ongoing support at a local level.”

ED: Is Federal Government doing enough to assist those on Temporary Visas? Comments please….

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

What has coronavirus done to the millennial version of the great Australian dream?

Locked out of a housing market that blew out beyond their means, young Australians have embraced a different way of living in recent years.

If Australia can’t provide a house, they figured, then the world would become their home.

And if their work can’t be secure, then they would make insecurity a virtue and float from one place to the next.

Through both desire and necessity, the great Australian dream for many millennials isn’t a big house and backyard — it’s the ability to travel widely and live and work anywhere but here.

Now that dream has come to an end as well.

Backpackers walking over a bridge
Traveling abroad is something of a rite of passage for many young people.(Flickr: Slim Teller)

Charting the wanderlust

In the decades before COVID-19, Australia was experiencing a slow but remarkable shift.

We were increasingly travelling overseas.

What was a trickle in 1990 became a flood by last year, where almost 12 million international trips were recorded by Australian residents. That’s almost one trip for every second Australian.

And the group that left our shores the most? Those aged 30-34.

In fact, people aged 25-34 took almost the same number of overseas trips last year as all Australians took in 1990.

Within one generation heading abroad went from being a luxury of the few to an expectation of the many.

We can be a bit insufferable about it, actually.

Ask an Aussie where to visit and they will probably reel off a list of places and throw in some pointers about where you can get a “real” New York steak or why the Eiffel Tower is overrated and packed with tourists anyway.

At the same time, home ownership among that same 25-34 cohort has been in decline.

The majority now rent privately and are putting off buying until later in life (if that’s even possible then).

You might argue that the reason millennials aren’t buying houses is because they’re spending all their money on holidays, but that doesn’t really stack up.

At least, it’s not the only reason. Wages just haven’t kept up with prices.

Median house prices have increased from about four times the median income in the early 1990s — when many of their parents bought — to more than seven times by 2018, according to the Grattan Institute.Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

‘There’s just so much more out there’

Millennials like Rina Laino know this well.

The 26-year-old production manager was born and raised in Melbourne. Her dad and grandparents migrated to Australia from Italy in the great post-war wave and quickly set about establishing roots here.

“So for them, the first and most important thing in life is basically owning a house,” she said. “Owning a house is a really, really, really big deal for them.”

When Rina got some money together — which included offers of help from family — her dad insisted on taking her to open homes and auctions, hoping to find something simple, suitable and within her budget.

They couldn’t find anything. So Rina moved to Japan.

Australian Rina Laino among Japanese statues.
Rina tried it her dad’s way, but ultimately forged her own path.(Supplied: Rina Laino)

“For me personally, it’s like, yeah cool, I could have a house and I could have a mortgage. Or I can wait until that’s something that’s really necessary in my life,” she said.

“[Living overseas] was something I’ve wanted forever. Don’t get me wrong, I love Australia, but I think there’s just so much more out there.”

Rina has been in Tokyo for almost two years and has stayed on in her full-time job with a French company, despite the many pleas from her family to return to Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.

After all, Japan is her home now. You might say she’s one of the lucky few.

The dream is over

A few thousand kilometres away, Australian entrepreneur Michael Craig is rolling with the punches in Indonesia.

Michael Craig portrait
Michael Craig moved to Bali after running his business in Perth became too stressful.(Supplied: Dojo Bali)

Five years ago he founded a co-working space called Dojo Bali for people who could work remotely and wanted to have a base to operate and travel from.

The initial members were those who had started working in the 1990s and now had established careers.

Then something interesting happened: they began sharing their experiences on Instagram.

Suddenly, a wave of young creatives starting turning up, enticed by the idea of cheap beer, beachside massages and the freedom to work when and where they chose.

The age of members now ranges from 18 to 70, but the cohort that makes up by far the largest chunk? You guessed it: 25-35.

It also gave rise to a new term that evokes the kind of mentality they can wear with pride: digital nomad.

Members working at Dojo Bali co-working space in Canggu
Members work by the pool at Bali’s Dojo co-working space in Canggu.(ABC News: Nat Kassel)

“They don’t see themselves sitting at a desk and working for the man, so to speak,” Michael said.

“They’re sick of living with so many rules around them. Australia seems to have become like a nanny state.

“That’s what they tell me: ‘There’s too many rules, I can come here and it’s freedom’.”

Then the coronavirus came.

Wandering dream over

Dojo Bali has shut its doors, but that was the obvious move.

As the virus spread, whole countries put their people into isolation.

While the rules aren’t as strict in Australia as some other places, travel bans still mean no-one is getting out and very few are getting in. If Australians are coming back, it’s for the long haul.

For people like Grace Conrick, a 26-year-old nurse, this has brought long-held dreams to a halt.

Grace and her partner had been strategic in their plan to move to London next year to work and travel. It was a goal years in the making.

Grace Conrick on a boat smiling at the camera.
Grace plans on making the most of England’s proximity to mainland Europe.(Supplied: Grace Conrick)

“I wanted to do post-grad study, which I’m completing as we speak and due to finish at the end of the year,” she said.

“And obviously we want to have enough financial backing to enjoy our time over there and then come home [with some money] in our early 30s. We don’t really feel the need to settle down and buy a house just yet and I feel like why not do something different?”

Grace was drawn to the idea of seeing the kaleidoscopic cultures of mainland Europe as well as working in a different health system.

Now they’re waiting to see how the pandemic unfolds. But Grace says they might have to settle for an extended holiday, if that.

Wandering dream could be over

If you were looking for signs of a recalibration of priorities among young Australians, this might be it.

The more dire forecasts say flight prices could surge 27 per cent and house prices could drop as much as 30 per cent. Perhaps that swing would be enough to coax some millennials to settle here instead of leaving.

Or maybe the choice will be taken out of their hands.

“We want to be able to go and enjoy mainland Europe and enjoy the benefits of traveling,” Grace said.

“If we don’t have that freedom then the trip wouldn’t be as we planned at all.”

And here’s where we start to hint at the real fear: this isn’t a temporary hit to the wandering Australian dream, it’s the end as we know it.

We initially pinned our hopes on a COVID-19 vaccine being 12-18 months away, but increasingly experts are warning it may never come.

What does that future look like?

Most countries have already closed their borders and turned inwards to contain the spread. While in the US, President Donald Trump has also announced a suspension on immigration.

At this stage we’re led to believe these are radical but temporary restrictions to travel. Yet it’s hard not to see the marshalling of political forces who will use this crisis to further their isolationist cause.

In recent years we’ve seen far-right anti-immigration groups rise in Europe and call for tighter border controls.

This pandemic is like throwing petrol on that smouldering flame.

It is already happening on the extreme fringes in Australia, where white supremacists are reportedly “delighted” at the closure of borders and hope an ensuing societal collapse with create conditions to foster their uprising.

American travel writer Sam Youkilis also fears the crisis will deepen suspicions of foreigners and he has already witnessed early signs while in Morocco in March and news was filtering through of the outbreak in Italy.

“At a lot of the markets, where anyone would say they were from Italy there was a sort of sceptical resistance from Moroccans in their interactions,” he said. “Just a general scepticism that people didn’t have before of foreigners and tourists.”

Sam quickly returned to the US only to be forced into lockdown in New York City.

‘Fences are easier to build than dismantle’

It’s not alarmist to consider that the draconian restrictions we’ve accepted under extreme circumstances will never be fully wound back. That the modern age of free(ish) movement has come to an end.

History tells us this is exactly what can happen in times of global crisis.

As migration expert Speranta Dumitru writes in The Conversation, World War I saw the introduction of previously unheard-of restrictions on movement, including mandatory passports.

Those passports began in Europe and were only supposed to be a temporary measure to be wound back when things settled down.

A hand holds two Australian passports in Central Park, New York.
Can you imagine a world without passports?(ABC News: Melanie Vujkovic)

It was the stated goal of many international conferences that they be abolished and there be a “complete return to pre-war conditions”, but somehow it just never seemed the right time to do it.

As one person argued to a gathering of international delegates in Geneva in 1926: “Conditions had changed so much since the war that everyone had to take into consideration a good many things they could formerly ignore.”

Now the people who argue against passports are the radicals.

As Dumitru writes: “Fences are easier to build than dismantle.”

We could be entering a new age

Still, there is another way of looking at this. One that is a more positive idea to end on.

And that is that this pandemic will open our eyes to the idea of working away from the office and recognising the freedom of remote living.Coronavirus questions answeredBreaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.Read more

“It’s the biggest experiment of remote work in the world,” says Michael from Dojo Bali.

“You’re having this massive experiment where all these people are going, ‘Hey, we’re working from home and hey, we can do this and it still works’.

That, combined with the wanderlust of millennials, could mean that rather than ending the era of movement, we are instead entering a new age. Even if there are new restrictions to deal with.

“They will push through that, because of the drive to go on that lifestyle,” Michael said.

“We’re already seeing our members want to come back to Bali. They’re all messaging, ‘When is Bali opening up? When is Bali opening up?'”

Who knows. But as long as millennials have the will, they may find a way.

So, dream on.

Australia named safest country in the world for women

  • Australia is the safest country in the world for women, according to data the consultancy New World Health released in its 2019 Global Wealth Migration Review.
  • Australia has earned the top spot for women’s safety for the second year in a row, followed by Malta, Iceland, New Zealand, and Canada.
  • Many of those countries are also popular destinations for individuals with a net worth of over $US1 million, according to the report, and have experienced strong wealth growth in the last 20 years.

Australia is the safest country in the world for women, according to data from consultancy New World Wealth, which was released in its 2019 Global Wealth Migration Review.

The global market research group, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, released a study this month on the movements of the world’s wealthiest individuals. As part of their analysis, they look at factors that influence wealth growth, which include economic growth, press freedom, and women’s safety.

Australia has earned the top spot for women’s safety for the second year in a row.

The top five safest countries in the world for women are:

1. Australia

2. Malta

3. Iceland

4. New Zealand

5. Canada

“Woman safety is one of the best ways to gauge a country’s long-term wealth growth potential, with a correlation of over 90% between historic wealth growth and woman safety levels,” the report explained.

“This means that wealth growth is boosted by strong levels of woman safety in a country,” the report continued.

Out of 195 countries, the report said only 58 had reasonably reliable crime statistics. Countries with unreliable crime statistics were excluded from the top five.

Results were based on the percentage of each country’s population that has been a victim of crimes related to rape, slavery, human trafficking, and general assaults on women, over the past year.

Most of the countries in the top five are also popular destinations for high net worth individuals, or people with a net worth of over $US1 million, according to the report. Most of the countries listed have also experienced strong wealth growth in the last 20 years.

Major European cities, like London and Paris, have seen a decline in women’s safety in the last few years, it added.

The index also highlighted the safest countries in different regions around the world:

Europe: Malta, Monaco, Iceland, Switzerland

Asia Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea

Africa: Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia

Americas: USA, Canada

Several recent studies also placed Australia in top ranks related to wealth and safety.

The Global Peace Index 2018, which ranks major nations around the world by how safe they are, named Australia the 13th safest country in the world in June.

Credit Suisse also named Australia as the country with the wealthiest people in the world in its Global Wealth Report 2018.

Source: Business Insider Australia

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Beautiful one day, pitiful the next: is ‘philausophy’a new low for Australian tourism ads?

As the concept of philausophy is unleashed on an unsuspecting world, please share your views on the good, the bad and the frankly odd campaigns in Australian tourism history

Australian tourism ads
 The philausophy campaign is the latest Australian tourism ad to make locals wince. Who knows what other countries think of it. Composite: Tourism Australia/SA Tourism/Queensland Tourism/Victoria Tourism

The word “philausophy” did not exist until Wednesday and, depending on its reception, may not exist for much longer.

The latest international campaign from Tourism Australia has landed, with its awkward, crow-barred pun already dividing audiences in the same way that it inelegantly divides the word “philosophy” itself.

Costing $38m and featuring scores of celebrities over the campaign’s lifetime (Chris Hemsworth, Paul Hogan, Kylie Minogue), it is targeted at potential visitors from North America, Europe and Asia, and plays on the idea that the Australian way of life is as attractive to tourists as the country itself.

Whether that works remains to be seen. It will last for three years, meaning we only have 1,095 more days of philausophy to endure.

In light of “philausophy”, Guardian Australia has compiled a list of the best, worst and most baffling Australian tourism ads of recent years, both state and national. From “Where the bloody hell are you” to the big ball of yarn that briefly terrorised Melbourne.

Have we missed any of your favourite, or least favourite, tourism ads? And where does the latest one rank? Tell us in the comments.

The bad

Philausophy – Australia

Forget Foucault, here’s far north Queensland?

Philausophy has come out of the blocks very slowly. It’s baffling to see and to hear. The pun is strange and, once you get it, not even particularly good, reminiscent of academia rather than fun.

Technically, the full slogan is “Come live our Philausophy“. The problem is that “come live our philosophy” is not a thing that anybody really says anyway. “Come live our philosophy” is what you hear before you enter a large, sealed compound in Utah.

According to the campaign, there are nine “philausophies”. These include: mateship, “no worries attitude”, generosity of spirit, sense of adventure and boundless optimism.

The tourism minister, Simon Birmingham, said: “Philausophy is about giving travellers from around the world a taste of what makes Australia such an enjoyable destination by shining a spotlight on the people, lifestyle and personality that make Australian experiences so memorable.”

These are strings of words that are somehow emptier and more meaningless than the invented word “philausophy”. It takes a special kind of skill to take something so bad, and make it worse.

Where the bloody hell are you? – Australia

The sands of time have rendered this infamous ad – devised when now prime minister Scott Morrison was the managing director of Tourism Australia – better than it first appeared.

Many may now look back on it fondly, with a healthy dose of nostalgia and irony. But there is no escaping the fact that, like “philausophy”, it was almost completely incomprehensible to people outside Australia.

Lara Bingle’s iconic “swear” even resulted in it being banned from many countries, thus falling at the first hurdle for an international ad.

It’s also not even that appealing to those that do manage to see it. Confusing and jarring, it’s the television equivalent of a jabbed finger and a sign that says, “If you lived here, you’d be home by now”.

Old mate – South Australia

If you cannot handle too much sadness, you genuinely should not watch this ad.

South Australia’s latest campaign, launched only last month, is already one of the worst tourism ads ever created.

Actively mean, it essentially makes fun of an old man and has been described as “so depressing it needs the Lifeline number at the end”.

Try and follow the twisted logic here. The ad shows an elderly man, called Dave, touring the beautiful sights of Adelaide, but then becoming sad that he didn’t come here earlier. It ends with Dave crying, and the line: “Don’t feel sorry for Old Mate – it’s his own damn fault he didn’t visit Adelaide sooner.”

And that’s a write-up where I’ve toned down the tragedy. Watch at your own risk.

The good

Ball of yarn – Victoria

This is a tricky one. I’m going to say that it is good. Why? Well we’re talking about it, aren’t we?

Not actively offensive. Not too confusing. Weird enough to hold your interest. “It’s easy to lose yourself in Melbourne” does what a good ad should. It highlights some distinguishing features about the place (laneways, a supposed sense of whimsy, indie music), and sticks in your head. Even if you hate it, it sort of works”

Be consumed – South Australia

This award-winning ad for the Barossa Valley shows how good SA Tourism can be when not making old men weep.

It’s mostly in here for the music – Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand. The action is earthy, the camerawork atmospheric and again, it hits the food and wine element people are looking for. Roast a bulb of fennel! Caress some eggs!

Does it remind people of the Snowtown serial killings and Adelaide’s supposedly abnormally high rate of murders? Maybe. Does the title hint that a visitor to the Barossa may not survive the experience? Perhaps.

But it also won the grand prix award at the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards, so something is going right.

Beautiful one day, perfect the next – Queensland

So good they used it twice.

Genuinely snappy and concise, the Queensland campaign slogan has been the state’s official tagline for decades, and has made its way into the collective consciousness.

When the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast came around, they used it again.

“When you’re on a good thing – stick to it,” said premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

It’s clearly stuck in the mind, and has now become a cultural reference in its own right, which is exactly what you want. Visiting US president Barack Obama even said it in 2015.

C U in the NT – Northern Territory

This is not actually official. But nothing Northern Territory tourism creates can ever beat “C U in the NT” – a satirical, viral marketing campaign that first popped up in 2016 and is run by a private company.

It is miles better than actual Tourism NT slogans, such as 2018’s “Boundless Possible”, which makes no sense.

You will still find many, many people who think that C U in the NT is official, and those who know will treasure it anyway.

The website sells its own merch, and has inspired tonnes of copycats, allowing it to proliferate all across the top end. Darwin City council has attempted to pass bylaws to ban it, but locals have steadfastly ignored them.

ED: Do YOU like the new Tourism Australia campaign?

Comments, please….

Source: Guardian Australia

Sourced by Mike Barrow