Tourism in Action: Daniel Gschwind (August)

It is, of course, a relief that some COVID-restrictions in Queensland are being eased, in response to the low, or zero, infection rate in our state.   However, this still offers only limited relief for tourism operators across the state, as long as most interstate visitors are locked out and fears of future restrictions keep consumers from committing to travel even within Queensland.  The situation for many businesses has further deteriorated and with the outlook for the September holidays still bleak; a growing number of operators are reaching the end of the line.

As long as the outlook nationally remains as unclear as it currently is, there can be no regulatory confidence for our industry.  The National Roadmap has yet again become subject to different interpretations between state/territory and the federal governments and there is absolutely no certainty of how and when large-scale lockdowns and border closures might become a thing of the past.  The desired 70 per cent vaccination-rate-threshold now seems to be only one of multiple indicators of progress, with low case numbers and hospitalisation rates also identified as KPIs for easing restrictions.  How this might be implemented with any consistency across states/territories is anything but clear.  Add to this, the international experience and talk about the need for vaccination booster shots after six to eight months to maintain protection efficacy, a return to any travel ‘normality’ seems some way off.

As an industry, we will need to take a more active interest in these discussions, not only as an industry affected by restrictions but also as an industry that must be part of long-term solutions.  How can we help facilitate COVID-safe travel?  How can we build on the successful implementation of COVID-safe industry plans?  What can we do further to make our workplaces and operations demonstrably COVID-ready?  What does the overseas experience teach us?  QTIC will continue to seek a pro-active engagement with national and state decision makers on these issue and we will keep you posted on any insight.

Meanwhile, we cannot lose sight of the need, under the enduring crisis conditions, to seek further government support for operators.  It’s increasingly clear that significant numbers of operators and their jobs are at existential risk.  A form of wage support will be the only effective option to sustain them longer-term.  It will also be the least costly option for the federal government as an alternative to high unemployment and business failures.  QTIC is also seeking support of more specific measures to ensure we are not putting at risk essential parts of our industry structures, specifically in the transport sector.  Additional support for micro businesses and non-employing operators is also an urgent need.

A discussion about how our industry will look in the future, a future that will almost certainly include the presence of COVID, will become more prominent and we must be pro-active about this.  The current processes to draft the Queensland Tourism Action Plan and the Federal Government’s Re-imagining the Visitor Economy will perhaps set up some of those discussions.  QTIC is an active participant in both efforts and will continue to make constructive representations on your behalf.

Finally, if you have not already, I encourage you to take just a few minutes and tell us through the survey what you think about a possible, voluntary booking guarantee pledge.  This idea is to give some more certainty to booking-weary, potential travellers.

We’re in your corner.