Australian tourism is gaining significant momentum for recovery, surviving two of its biggest challenges this year by resisting the tendency to “go dark” in the early months of the pandemic.
The double blow of being hit by Covid-19 impacts almost immediately after bushfires ravaged many popular tourist destinations presented the country with deep challenges. But a responsive plan has resulted in, among other things, robust network growth in travel consultants for the industry worth 126 billion AUD (89.1 billion USD).
Campaigns like Live From Aus in May, a live-streamed program of virtual travel experiences to inspire the next Australian holiday, generated about 34 million online views in some 40 countries.
Tourism Australia (TA) also almost tripled the number of travel agents who went through their Aussie Specialist Program training to 80,000 agents in the last financial year, compared to 30,000 in a normal year.
“Obviously, in the panic phase, we did pause everything when the consumer sentiment wasn’t there,” TA’s executive general manager commercial, Robin Mack, told attendees at Australia’s luxury business exchange event Luxperience.
With borders likely to remain closed to international visitors till late 2021, TA’s post-bushfire campaign appealing to locals to Holiday Here This Year has been evolving to meet current conditions, as some interstate borders remain closed or limited.
“(The campaign) is almost a call to arms and a behavior change,” said Mack. “Already, over 80 billion AUD is spent domestically by Australians (including) 85 million room nights or overnight stays. But our big opportunity for that domestic market is getting the 9.6 million that go overseas to holiday in Australia.”
With restrictions beginning to ease, TA launched a new 7-million-AUD campaign this week aimed at driving that domestic market to book not just hotels but experiences.
Fortunately, a limited trans-Tasman travel bubble has opened, with the first flight from New Zealand touching down in Australia earlier. Those arriving in New South Wales and the Northern Territory in Australia will not have to quarantine – with zero cases currently reported in New Zealand. However, passengers on the return trip will be asked to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand.
Sydney Airport chief executive officer, Geoff Culbert, said this was a first step in the “phased approach”.