I started my “Five questions with…” series more almost three months ago with a plan to keep people thinking about travel amidst the fallout of COVID-19 — and in hopes of getting answers to questions about destinations that friends and family were already asking me.
As travel editor at the Vancouver Courier newspaper, a vice-chair of the B.C. branch of the Travel Media Association of Canada, and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, travel is a big part of my life, which meant I already had the contacts in place to get started.
Now with some destinations starting to slowly reopen, and, in an effort to catch a glimpse of future travel trends, I’m continuing to reach out to travel experts and tourism bureaus across Canada and the globe for answers to five similar questions.
And while no one can predict the future, all are hopeful travel will soon resume. But, how exactly that will look is anyone’s guess.
If you are part of a destination management organization or represent a property and want to share your thoughts, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
Five questions with Tourism Australia
How do you measure tourism numbers and how does Canada fit into that?
If we look at the most recent statistics from the government’s International and National Visitor Survey, which are for the year to December 2019 — just prior to the crises — it shows that our industry was in a very strong position and a major economic driver — highlighting the important role that tourism will play in Australia’s economic recovery when the coronavirus crisis passes.
The most recent figures for the 2019 year-end show that the Australian tourism industry contributes $126 billion ($80 billion domestic overnight visitor spend & $45.5 billion in international overnight visitor spend) to the Australian economy each year to one that has virtually been put on hold since restrictions were introduced due to COVID-19.
In terms of international travel, Australia welcomed 9.5 million visitors in 2019, including 190k visitors from Canada who spent $892 million on trips to Australia.
What does the future hold for your destination and are there any travel trends we can look forward to?
After spending more time at home and indoors, we’ll no doubt see a lot of the pent-up desire for travel with people wanting to get out and about more and reconnect by exploring nature through travel.
Domestically, we're already seeing a new appreciation for our natural beauty and wide-open spaces with which we expect to see a surge in Australians embracing road trips, and planning their own epic routes to discover their backyards, as some state borders have begun to reopen.
When the time is right for international travel to return to Australia, visitors will be able to indulge in the great food and wine, spectacular nature and wildlife experiences, and uniquely Australian arts and culture moments that Australia is well known for.
Australia is home to so many incredible and diverse landscapes, offering plenty of open-air experiences — from the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef as well as the many Great Walks of Australia and more — visitors are literally spoilt for choice.
Finally, wellness travel (i.e. spa holidays, yoga retreats) was growing in popularity as we closed out 2019 and the last six months have amplified the desire for this type of holiday.
When do you think your destination will be welcoming visitors once again?
International travel has effectively been at a standstill since Australia announced the closure of its borders on 20 March 2020, and it is not certain when international borders will re-open.
At this stage we are just starting to see borders reopen between some, but not all, states and territories in Australia.
From Tourism Australia’s perspective attracting international travellers will form a critical part of the tourism restart and recovery in Australia, but will likely be further down the track.
We just don’t know when international restrictions will start to be lifted, nor how the
process of restoring international travel will play out. But we will be ready to go back and go back at scale when the time is right.
Is Australia considering any "travel bubbles" with any other countries?
While we all want to see the return of international visitors, that’s still some way off and given domestic travel restrictions are being lifted before international ones, recovery will undoubtedly be domestic led.
However, Tourism Australia remains active in 15 international markets including Canada. For the moment we are also active in domestic marketing as we look to support our industry through these challenging times.
The process of rebuilding tourism is likely to be gradual, beginning first with visits to local cafes and restaurants, day trips, intrastate road trips and weekend breaks.
Then, as the state borders gradually re-open, interstate travel, when people have the opportunity to explore further afield. And eventually international travel, potentially starting with our near neighbours, New Zealand.
What are you doing now to keep travellers interested in Australia?
Tourism Australia has been committed to bringing Australia's unique and iconic experiences into the living rooms of grounded travellers around the world through Live from Aus, a jam-packed program of live entertainment delivered by Aussie experts in everything from koalas and kangaroos, to mountain biking, music, food and wine and much more.
The wide range of programming virtually transports viewers across the country, into every state and even underwater.
What started as a weekend of live events has continued with several recent videos, all available on-demand on Australia's YouTube channel.
We can't wait to welcome our mates from around the world Down Under when it is once again safe to travel, and in the meantime, we encourage travellers to take this time to daydream of their next trip and make it the most memorable holiday they've ever had.
We're constantly adding to the growing library of content and resources on Australia.com, including virtual tours of Australia's top sites and wildlife experiences, Australian entertainment to tune in from home and tips for planning your next Aussie trip from your living room.
We hope it inspires people to keep the wanderlust alive and to come visit us soon, because there's still nothing like Australia.