There are still significant concerns around the non-payment from some travel agency platforms for debts with Queensland operators. One online agency alone, Adventium, is estimated to owe Queensland tourism operators millions of dollars for services already delivered to customers before COVID restrictions. This is an unacceptable situation for businesses already struggling under the financial stress of the actual crisis and they should not be subjected to such poor business practices by companies in the distribution system. QTIC has made an effort to understand the legal situation surrounding this case and is communicating with affected businesses and the Queensland Government. We are happy to hear from affected businesses.
The situation raises more general questions about the suitability and reliability of the current commercial and legislated arrangements and practices of the tourism distribution system. At QTIC we will engage in a conversation about this topic to consider if there are better ways to serve operators.
Roadmap to recovery
The 3-stage roadmap released last week both nationally and for Queensland indicated timelines that were actually more encouraging than previously feared. However, much work remains to be done to achieve the best outcome and to possibly accelerate the easing of restrictions, particularly in relation to the maximum numbers of people allowed for a range of tourism and hospitality activities.
These are the particularly noteworthy points for tourism and hospitality, based on the latest meetings we have had with government:
- Stage 1 – 15 May:
- the government’s general business check lists are meet to provide certainty for operators in terms of their obligations, provide safe environments for staff and keep customers safe.
- There are mandatory requirements for restaurants and cafes opening in stage 1. These requirements can be found here and cover topics like customer record-keeping, hygiene standards and social distancing. As part of those requirements, all staff will have to complete a TAFE-provided, free, on-line training module (yet to be released). The training must be completed within two weeks of opening the business. Restaurant and café provisions are mandatory and will be enforced.
- Stage 2 – 12 June:
- The main change will be the opening of overnight stays in commercial accommodation. For the school holidays, this will effectively be the re-start for some domestic tourism. Many attractions and tours will remain closed due to likely customer restrictions.
- A main concern for many tourism and hospitality business remains the limitation to 20 customers at this stage. In our latest meeting with the Chief Health Officer, she indicated that the detailed provisions for Stage 2 are still flexible and could change, subject to infection rates and business compliance. Specifically, she indicated that with effective industry and sector health protocols in place, she would consider allowing for greater numbers for compliant businesses. This is where QTIC’s current work is focused with the support of Mater Health professionals and sector associations. Our aim is to provide the Chief Health Officer with all the necessary check lists and protocols to give her the confidence that the tourism industry and its individual businesses are prepared to cater safely for its customers and look after staff.
- For stage 2 we are also keen to see a more flexible distance regime, possibly extending the 250 km radius, particularly for regional areas.
- Stage 3 – 10 July
- This will be the most significant step both in terms of geographic freedoms and also with customer numbers increasing to 100. Still not sufficient for some attractions but certainly effective for restaurants and many tour options. All the provisions for Stage 3 will remain under review and we can hope for better news.