In today’s world of uncertain, unprecedented (insert the latest cliché) times, it’s essential that all of us in the travel industry stay positive and celebrate the small wins. Here’s my rundown of five things that have given us all at Karryon some fresh hope and optimism this week. Hopefully, they have for you too.
Another week down and hello daylight savings this weekend (for some of us anyway – sorry Queensland).
Personally, I feel like there’s been some solid momentum this week with a host of significant developments that all add up to a positive narrative for the travel industry.
There has, of course, been some more heartbreaking news too within the industry this week, but the crucial thing for all of us is to keep our eyes on the prize here, in the hope that moving forward brings us all together again as soon as possible.
So here we go with this weeks five notable moments. Have a fantastic weekend.
1. The bubbles are back! Time to pop the pre-Christmas champers sooner than we thought?
A lot of media discussion and excited water-cooler chat this week has centred around the return of plans for a Trans-Tasman bubble.
Only this time it feels much more of a sure thing.
Plans for New Zealanders being able to travel to certain states in Australia ‘within weeks’ and Australians able to cross the ditch before Christmas without having to quarantine on arrival was confidently amped up by leaders from both countries across numerous media channels from last weekend onwards.
Clearly, the desire is there to make this happen and reunite loved ones by Christmas for the benefit of everyone economically and emotionally.
The clincher for me was hearing trade and tourism minister Simon Birmingham talking it up on the Today show last Sunday.
While Mr Birmingham’s objective is obviously directed towards sparking more inbound tourism, to hear him also talking up outbound too? Whatever next.
Cheers to Trans-Tasman travel very soon!
BREAKING NEWS: As I wrote this story, the news broke of Australia announcing the start of the Trans-Tasman bubble from October 16.
Albeit one-way at this point from New Zealand into New South Wales and The Northern Territory but hopefully, also flying over to New Zealand also. No doubt this news had made Mr Birmingham’s week!
2. Singapore and Japan bubbles too?
Is this the start of a travel bubble domino effect? Let’s hope so.
From 8 October, Singapore will lift border restrictions to visitors from Australia and Vietnam and allow them to apply for an Air Travel Pass – which gives the green light for leisure travel – subject of course, to being allowed to leave Australia first.
Meanwhile, a Japan bubble could also be in the pipeline for Aussie and Kiwi travellers very soon, with news that the country could open it’s borders to 10 low-case countries as early as this month.
More good stuff. No doubt the South Pacific will be next up. Stand by for that happy news next week.
The reality is that if we were allowed to leave Australia right now (for non-essential travel), we could travel to most of the world including the UK and Europe quarantine free anyway.
3. Australian borders continue to reopen
With last week seeing South Australia reopen its border to NSW and Queensland opening up to more NSW residents and vice versa yesterday, today’s headline is that Queensland will reopen its border to all of NSW from November 1.
Monday also brought the end of Metropolitan Melbourne’s COVID curfew with some other restrictions easing and further rules now expected to change faster than was previously thought. Brilliant news.
Yes, there’s still a way to go yet (and not just for Victoria), but we’re getting there. Earlier in the week, I wrote a piece sending a massive thank you to everyone in Victoria for continuing to do all of us in Australia proud.
Because all of Australia’s border lifting announcements nor the bubble plans would not have happened without the good people of the state’s collective commitment and sacrifice to help get case numbers down and flatten the curve.
4. 15-minute COVID testing at airports
This week, United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travellers that will make it easier for them to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world.
Starting on October 15, customers travelling on United from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.
The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO.
Other airlines including Air Canada and Alaska Air have also ordered the testing kits. While they are all still to be approved as part of their own pilot programs, it appears another positive step in restoring confidence in air travel in light of no vaccine being available yet.
5. Could hotel quarantine in Australia be scrapped for some returning residents?
PM Scott Morrison said this week that international arrivals from selected ‘safe countries’ could potentially trade mandatory hotel quarantine for 14-day home quarantine instead.
There is so much good to come from this it were to happen soon…
From safely reuniting loved ones and repatriating Australians far sooner than the current backlog, to arrival caps being lifted and airports and airlines being economically viable again, and hotels not having to bear the brunt of operating both quarantined and leisure guests.
It’d be another huge domino effect.
Could this also mean that Australians would then be able to leave the country and travel to the so-called ‘safe countries’ for non-essential travel too? It would certainly give the travel bubble stories more weight.
As we move towards Christmas and more pressure is put on state and federal government to fix the issue of loved ones being stranded and disconnected, it seems as if a common-sense solution is not far away.
All up, we’ve come a long way in just a few weeks and I am personally feeling optimistic about the run into the end of the year.
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