Category Archives: Tourism

Tourism sector lobbies Government to extend JobKeeper for another six months

The tourism industry is warning of hundreds of thousands of job losses and a complete collapse of the sector, if the Federal Government does not extend its coronavirus wage subsidy scheme for another six months beyond the September end date.

Key points:

  • New modelling from the tourism industry warns of monthly job losses of 133,000 by December without ongoing government support
  • The Federal Government is reluctant to extend JobKeeper beyond its September end date
  • The sector believes opening up domestic travel, and a trans-Tasman bubble will only go part of the way to fixing the problem

The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) has written to the chair of the Prime Minister’s National COVID-19 Commission, painting a bleak picture for the industry and pleading for the JobKeeper payment to be extended until at least March 2021.

Modelling commissioned by the TTF, and released, shows monthly job losses rising from 33,000 in August to at least 133,000 by December if JobKeeper ends on schedule, with lost wages soaring from $1.3 billion to $5.3 billion in that same period — even with the return of domestic travel.

“To be perfectly frank, if there isn’t JobKeeper or a similar level of support extended to the industry, there won’t be much of the tourism industry left this time next year,” TTF chief executive Margy Osmond told the ABC.

“At this point in time, the industry is 65 per cent down on the number of jobs it would normally hold.

“So, we’re sitting at just over 230,000 jobs in an industry that would normally have about 660,000 direct jobs.”

The Federal Government is reluctant to extend the wage subsidy beyond September, partly because of how difficult it is to define certain sectors which will need ongoing support, such as in tourism.

It is understood transitioning people to the JobSeeker unemployment benefit, and keeping it at its now higher rate — either permanently or through an ongoing supplement payment — is being discussed.

The tourism sector argued coronavirus restrictions had hit it earlier and harder than other industries. Travel restrictions and demands for social isolation at the height of the outbreak crippled tourism, transport and hospitality businesses across the country.

The TTF warned without additional support, many small and medium tourism operators may close their doors for good.

“The tourism sector is quite unique in this space — we’re absolutely governed by what will happen with the borders, both domestic and international,” Ms Osmond said.

While the sector has been looking forward to the return of interstate holidaymakers, and the much-hyped ‘Trans-Tasman Bubble‘, Ms Osmond argued it would not solve all of the industry’s woes.

“We’ll probably see less than 100,000 people coming from New Zealand over the six months after we actually open a trans-Tasman bubble, and many of them will actually be visiting friends and family,” she said.

“Your average Chinese visitor spends about $8,500 when they’re here, compared to probably around $1,500 from a local tourist.

“It’s going to take a lot of work to bring that up to scratch, and I can’t see that happening.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Federal Government was due to review the JobKeeper program at the end of June.

“We recognise that some sectors like tourism will face ongoing challenges, particularly if our international borders remain closed for some time,” he said in a statement.

“It is critically important that we lift border restrictions as domestic tourism is worth around 70 per cent of Australia’s overall tourism industry.

ED: Have your say! Comments most welcome.

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Australians should take a holiday at home, but will they be spending $5,211 a trip?

Australians are being urged to help bring a much needed boost to the tourism industry by taking a holiday at home this year, but the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) warns it’s not a simple fix for our tourism businesses.
 
“While the Government is doing the right thing in urging Australians to spend their holiday savings at home this year, the idea that it can somehow replace the income the industry derives from international visitors is unrealistic,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley says.
 
“Domestic holidays can and will help many Australian tourism businesses, particularly those set up specifically for local visitors, but for those who have strongly invested in the inbound market or who have a business set up purely to service the international visitors, domestic travellers just won’t generate the same income.
 
“Our research has shown that a third of tourism businesses will not benefit from the domestic tourism market with more than half of businesses expecting to not be viable within 6 months without international visitors.
 
“This is hardly surprising given the average spend of an international visitor is $5,211. It’s just not feasible to think most Australians would spend that amount of money on a domestic holiday in order to make up a $45bn shortfall.”
 
Mr Shelley said expectations on the travel budget capacity of our domestic market are unrealistic given diminished consumer confidence, perceived economic insecurity and disrupted leave entitlements experienced by many Australians this year. 
 
“We have already seen some tourism products adjusting their pricing to encourage locals to get involved, but this price reduction is often being massively and unsustainably subsidised and not delivering any real profits to the business.
 
“Many other tourism businesses are just not able to ‘pivot’ to the domestic market.  They are either exclusively focused on international visitors – like inbound tour operators who build itineraries for international travellers and support and service them during their stay, or tourism businesses which have invested in designing products to appeal to particular international markets.
 
“Our export tourism industry has been an enormous success and has delivered double digit growth for much of the last decade.  What’s important now is that we preserve the export tourism businesses which will form the foundation of our rebuilding so we can reignite that successful growth once international borders are open.
 
“In truth, there will be very few export tourism businesses who will benefit significantly from a domestic uptick and they definitely won’t be looking at the level of revenue our inbound sector has delivered in the past.
 
“While we encourage Australians to get out and see Australia, we need to recognise there are some valuable and otherwise viable businesses which will need Government support in order to make it through this long period of hibernation.
 
“ATEC is currently in discussions with the industry and Government agencies to negotiate an extension of industry support to ensure we protect this important part of our tourism eco structure and help build a plan to successfully drag our tourism industry out of this huge dark hole.”

ED: What about the average spend of a working holiday visa maker?

Source: ATEC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Adventure tourism operators shutting down amid insurance refusals

Unable to access insurance, several long-running adventure tourism businesses have shut up shop and fear their sector is in jeopardy.

Key points:

  • Adventure tourism operations are shutting down after insurers refuse to provide public liability insurance
  • Brokers and industry representatives say such coverage is becoming “financially unviable” for insurers around the world
  • The Insurance Council says “specialist brokers” overseas may be able to help, but operators are calling for government assistance

John Allport has run Tasmania’s Huon River Jet Boats for 30 years, but says he can no longer operate after his insurance policy came up for renewal.

Despite contacting 20 underwriters, Mr Allport said his broker had failed to find one willing to provide public liability insurance.

“This could kill adventure tourism,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Kalbarri Quadbike Safaris has operated for 11 years in Western Australia’s Midwest, but has now closed after its broker was unable to secure insurance.

Owner Martin Rodger predicted more tourism operators would be forced to close their doors as they came to renew their policies.

“We can’t operate this business, we can’t sell this business,” he said. “We can’t do anything with this business.”

Two quad bikes and their riders parked on a tranquil stretch of river.
Kalbarri Quadbike Safari operators Martin Rodger and Ellen Nightingale have shut the business down.(ABC Midwest And Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

Fellow Kalbarri quad bike tour operator Jenny McClintock, from Wagoe Beach Quad Bike Tours, is also facing closure when her policy comes up for renewal in August.

“If we can’t get public liability, adventure tourism will die within months,” Mrs McClintock said.

It’s the same story for Peter Kalbfell, who owns a jet boating company in the south-west holiday town of Dunsborough.

“If we can’t source public liability insurance we can not operate in the marine park and we’ll have to shut down,” Mr Kalbfell said. “It feels terrible.

“The State Government is trying to promote [tourism campaign] ‘Adventure Awaits’ — well, there won’t be any adventure left if the State or Federal Governments don’t step in and assist.”

Two whales along side a jet boat in greeny-blue waters.
Jet Adventures in Dunsborough is turning away customers because it can’t operate without public liability insurance.(Supplied: Jet Adventures)

Providers ‘toughening up’

“It’s been a heavy couple of years for Lloyd’s of London,” he said.

“They’ve been really rescaling their books, especially in in regards to liability risks. “They’re not charities, they are there to make a profit and statistically this is how they do it.

“They can wear losses for a couple of years but after a while they have to toughen up and that’s what we’re seeing.”

William Legge, the general manager of peak body Underwriting Agencies Council, said in many instances it was no longer financially viable to provide public liability cover.

Campbell Fuller, the Insurance Council of Australia‘s head of communication, said there was a global tightening of the market for such insurance types, although he said cover might be available from “specialist brokers” overseas.

Two quad bikes driving along a vast stretch of empty beach.
After 13 years of operation, Kalbarri Wagoe Beach Quad Bike Tours might be forced to close when its insurance comes up for renewal.(ABC Midwest And Wheatbelt: Samille Mitchell)

Calls for help

The tour operators and WA Nationals Tourism Spokesman Vince Catania MLA warned that the closure of adventure tourism operations would have a big impact on tourism and tourist towns.

“If you can’t get insurance you can’t operate,” Mr Catania said.

“If you can’t operate there is no tourism product that we can sell to those visitors who want to come up and jump on a quad bike, who want to get on a boat, who want to be able to do adventure tours, whether it’s on the coast or whether it’s inland.”

Operators are now calling on state and Federal governments to step in and underwrite their businesses in a similar manner to New Zealand, which has a universal system of no-fault risk underwritten by the Government.

Under the system employers, businesses and sports clubs pay levies to the Accident Compensation Corporation, calculated to reflect the risk of an activity.

“We need some help and it’s pretty urgent,” Mrs McClintock said. “Because the longer we go on, more businesses will close down and they won’t come back.”

‘Worldwide phenomenon’

WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia has asked the small business commissioner to provide advice about how the Government might be able to help.

“I would like to try and see what we can do to ensure people can get insurance,” he said. “But it’s not normally a Government activity.”

A close up photo of a man wearing a suit.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

Federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said treasury was “monitoring the current insurance market situation”.

“While coverage is still readily available in Australia, public liability insurance market is tightening as fewer insurers are underwriting this product and have placed a greater focus on owners’ risk management and maintenance,” he said.

“Treasury advice indicates insurance markets are becoming being more selective in the risks they will underwrite, and are imposing stricter terms and conditions on policyholders.

“This is a worldwide phenomenon and is a reflection of the insurer and underwriter response to the poor financial performance of this type of insurance in recent years.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Post Covid-19 Adventure Travel Industry Australia & NZ

Today feels like a truly legendary day: the first sale in almost 3 months! With restrictions lifting, it feels great looking towards the future again!

We have had a lot of time to explore how we can do better, focusing on delivering quality over quantity, and authenticity over sales talks. Even the smallest improvements are going to make us better than we were before COVID-19.

So after this period of peace and quiet, this campervan sale relieves my worries and convinces me: “This is the start of the end of Covid 19”.

In my business, during the past months of “travel silence” or “hibernation”, I focused on bringing out the good from the bad. I looked closely at our old procedures and improved them.

Dot Travel (Dutchies Travel, Germans Travel, and co.) is ready for a new start: a fresh one and, more importantly, a better one. I can only hope that everyone in this boat, in this industry, will feel the same while reading the following points. 

Before we talk about the future, let’s discuss a few of the scariest words of the industry: “Travel Agent”, “Commission” and “OTAs”. 

Travel Agent: 

Travel agents co-exist in both the retail space and online and promote / market products for operators. Travelers that care about their trip talk to a travel expert who actually has the knowledge of the market and the products. The agent is able to match the right product to the customer, so he or she has the trip of a lifetime and falls in love with Australia.

Commission

I like to remind everyone that commission is not a motivation, it’s a reward! It’s the service fee agents are getting paid to promote and sell an operator’s product, and the service fee the customer pays to receive help booking their trip. Agents are there for a reason: they are for people who need/want help!

OTA: 

We all think that OTAs are just online companies whose websites allow consumers to book various travel-related services online without them actually “having to do anything for it”. What we don’t realize is that OTAs actually spend immense amounts of money on development and marketing in order to promote and sell the products on their platform. They might sell it a different way and spend less physical effort, but they have the same costs as any other agent (if not more). 

So after explaining these confusing and scary words, let’s see what we can do to change this industry for the better.

Let’s learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves and each other. 

We have a lot of work to make Australia the best travel country again. Any of the following points could help:

  1. We are all damaged by the business decisions of some companies, but software systems are not your enemy! There’s a lot of work that goes into connecting the millions of booking software, reservations systems, upgrades, add-ons, accounting, and refunding. With the right regulations in place, these systems add true value to agents, operators, and travelers.
  2. The same counts for reservations systems. Having live availability makes everyone’s life easier. If you don’t have it yet, please get it. We live in 2020.
  3. Have a commission structure in place for agents. Reward, don’t motivate. Commission structures can be based on past sales and need to communicate clear steps on what an agent needs to do/reach in order to get a higher reward.
  4. Don’t be afraid of using OTAs. Those customers that do not like to book with a travel agent will book their travel direct. An OTA provides the system to do that, so the customer can “do it themselves” but still have the choice to “decide themselves”.
  5. Don’t devalue your product by the fear of missing out on customers, especially when considering summer/winter prices. We all know that fewer people are traveling in winter, but that doesn’t mean they need to pay less.
  6. If you want to compete, try to be different. Don’t fight with price and commissions. Focus on “Brand Humanity” and determine what your brand stands for. Communicating that message and finding a way to impart feelings into a product are all important ways that brands can set themselves apart from others. “Price is what you pay. Value is what you receive”.
  7. Run your company like a business owner, not like a traveler. If you need help, talk to an expert about regulations, cancelations, and contracts. Don’t just make them up and change them on the go. Now it’s more important than ever to build trust with customers as well as with new and old business partners.

COVID-19 has damaged not only the people in the travel industry but also its overall reputation. We can all do something about that together by asking ourselves:

Where and how am I delivering value to my customers and to my partners?”

Make yourself better, don’t focus only on your commissions or your prices. The question shouldn’t be about price, it should be about delivering value to the customer.  Communicate with your business relationships, be honest, and set clear goals.

Be proud of your product, be proud of your service!

A new future starts by ourselves, by looking at ourselves and not at others, because after all: if we are not willing to change our own habits, how can we expect someone else to change?

Written by Lisanna Weston – Entrepreneur on a mission

Source: LinkedIn

BYTAP – what we are doing to help the youth tourism industry

Like many of you, the company I work for (AIFS) has been heavily hit by the pandemic. It has not been an easy three months – I have had to lay off staff, reduce hours and cut every cost I can find.

I can honestly say it has been the hardest 3 months of my working life. I have a very personal interest in keeping the company I work for running, but having worked in tourism for the last 25 years, I also feel incredibly strongly that we need to do everything we can to keep the industry going.

So I want to share some work BYTAP is doing to let you know that there are also others working to try and keep our industry alive and kicking (with apologies in advance for the length!).

For those of you who may not know BYTAP (Backpackers and Youth Tourism Advisory Panel) was established as a sector advocacy group under ATEC.

While there is no longer any formal connection with ATEC it has continued to meet and when possible advocate behind the scenes for issues relating to our industry.

Current panel members are Brendan McKenna, Mark Baldwin, Kerry Tate, Joanna Burnet, Silke Kerwick and I. Since the onset of COVID-19, BYTAP has regularly met and spoken with representatives from ATV, AQ, the BOAs and other peak industry bodies about what industry sees as the key priorities.

The following is the four we have agreed upon:

Extending financial assistance (such as Job Keeper) for inbound tourism operators

A one-year extension for Working Holiday visa holders effected by the pandemic on/offshore

The potential rollout of a secure corridor (quarantine model) to bring Working Holiday visa holders back to Australia

Reduction in Working Holiday Visa fees

The top point is the most critical; as an industry with no date set for the opening of borders, most of us will not be able to survive without financial support.

BYTAP’s approach is two-pronged; having our message heard by government (and having them act on it!) and getting our message heard in the media.

For the former we have started to take the first steps – last week I met with Minister Katter and we aim to speak with other ministers in the coming weeks.

Our media efforts have only just started and need to be ramped up quickly. To that end we want to share your stories, how the pandemic has affected your business, and the impact it will have if no help is forthcoming in the coming months.

If you’d like to help please email me – waylward@aifs.com.au.

And many thanks to those who have already been in touch with case studies.

While BYTAP is one voice, we know that many of you have already been in touch with your local minister independently – please do not stop. Statements in parliament by Ministers’ Warren Entsch and George Christensen today show that they are listening. We just need to increase this noise.

I’ll leave it there for the moment but happy to hear feedback. I’ve also included the other BYTAP panel members on this post so please feel free to contact us if you prefer.

Thanks for listening.

Source: Wendy Aylward