Tourism in Action: Daniel Gschwind (September)

Going with the good news first: today we celebrate the UN World Tourism Day. You may not be in the mood for celebration just yet, but it does not hurt to use the occasion to reflect on some positives for our industry. The theme for the global event this year is Tourism for Inclusive Growth, a reminder of just how powerful tourism is as an agent for positive outcomes. Not just as an economic powerhouse but as a driver of social inclusion, regional employment, cultural and heritage protection, environmental sustainability and also health and wellbeing. We should be proud of how businesses, large and small, are genuinely contributing to a better world. ‘Travel for good’, a recent theme of TEQ’s efforts, is a reflection of this and can have real meaning and substance behind it. We have used the theme of World Tourism Day to launch our new Accessible Tourism module under our Quality Tourism Framework, a national program of the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC). More details of this new program can be found below.

We held our annual QTIC World Tourism Day event last week, to coincide with the wrap-up session for our Young Professionals Mentoring Program. Listening to the 44 mentees who went through our program and the 43 mentors who supported them, there can be no doubt that our industry has a bright future. The drive and optimism – and the diversity – that was on display on the night, and the stories that have been shared with us during the 6-month program, are inspiring and just the antidote we need for the non-medical impact of the COVID virus.

Which brings me to the less positive part: we are still stuck in some limbo about the future of our borders and the details of any national ‘roadmap’. The Premier caused considerable consternation last week with a non-comital attitude to an 80% vaccination rate threshold to open up. Hope (the government’s and ours) now apparently hinges on this Friday’s National Cabinet meeting. There must be more certainty forthcoming about our path to freedom-of-movement and the summer holidays. Our industry needs a very big Christmas present this year and on top of our wish list is a strong, safe interstate market with a hint of international arrivals. I understand that all Queenslanders appreciate the COVID-free privileges we currently enjoy, including through a lively interstate market. Many in the community are quite content to keep up the drawbridge for the foreseeable future as the price to keep the virus out. However, it is not sustainable. The Premier herself said that the virus will arrive in Queensland at some stage. We have to prepare the community for that and discuss the scenarios calmly and rationally, without unnecessary politics. We have no alternative but to reengage with the rest of the country and eventually the rest of the world – not just for the sake of our industry, operators and staff but also for the sake of our community and our families scattered in other parts of the country and the world.

We are getting vaccinated in great numbers, comply with the QR code tracing, follow all social distancing rules and are ready to work with the government in taking every possible step to provide COVID-safe workplaces and places to deliver services to our visitors. All that, combined with a functioning health system, surely must give us the confidence to connect with the world again at some state. If not, what will? All we ask is for some clarity on how and when this will happen.

Thank you for your continued support in taking your messages and your plight to the government in the most constructive way we can.