Tourism operators and the Government want to give you a ‘kick up the bum’ to rethink your holidays

August 18th, 2020 | | Tourism

Ever since COVID-19 shut Australia’s borders, the message from the tourism industry has been clear: plan a holiday at home.

Key points:

  • Domestic travel spending plummeted by $11 billion in April and May this year compared to last year, research has found
  • Some domestic tourism businesses are offering discounts to locals and trying out new marketing strategies
  • One domestic tourism provider hopes coronavirus leads to positive changes for the industry

But tourism operators and the Federal Government have warned that even as domestic travel starts to rebound in some parts of the country, there are sections of the industry missing out.

And they want Australians to rethink how they approach their domestic travel plans.

Locals hard to attract as industry slowly recovers

New figures from Tourism Research Australia show domestic travel spending plummeted by more than $11 billion in April and May this year, at the height of COVID-19 restrictions, compared to the same period in 2019.

Spending in Victoria dropped by 92 per cent, while it was down by 89 per cent in both New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said while anecdotally there had been some improvement in several states since then, there were major challenges still confronting the sector.

“The states that have been doing well in re-opening their economies safely have seen people eager to get out of the cities and into regional communities and there’s an uptick in terms of regional accommodation bookings and travel in general,” he said.

“But there’s still plenty of parts of the tourism industry doing it very, very tough such as your inner-city hotels, your conference and meeting venues and those premium tour operators and those operating major experiences around the country that traditionally rely more on international visitors or big-spending interstate domestic travel.”

Sean Blocksidge estimates that before coronavirus hit, West Australians made up just 2 per cent of people taking his adventure tours in the state’s Margaret River region.

Now, the WA border closure means they are his only market — and it is proving a difficult one to tap. 

“Perth people particularly… I don’t know how to say this nicely, but they kind of think that they know everything already and you can’t show them anything new,” he said.

“And I understand they’ve been coming to Margaret River for a long time… so they do the same thing that they’ve kind of done every time before because they enjoy it.

“I suppose the advice is to try and be polite about it but at the same time you want to give them a good kick up the bum.”

Senator Birmingham concedes not everyone has the money to spend on tourism activities on top of costs like food and accommodation, while Victorians are still unable to travel because of coronavirus restrictions.

A woman paddles a canoe into the sunset.
More than 60 per cent of Vivienne Golding’s Noosa kayaking tour customers came from overseas before coronavirus.(Supplied: Kanu Kapers Australia)

But he said those who could afford to travel safely should “think outside the square” and approach a holiday at home like they would an overseas one.

“An Australian holiday for an Australian shouldn’t just be about going back to that regular spot at the beach you’ve always gone to but you should really get out, explore our country and book something exciting,” he said.

“Undertake an adventure-based activity, a cultural tour, get out with nature through a guided tour program because they’re the businesses that are doing it very tough right now.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow