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Travel Advisors of the Round Table: A cruise restart, funding and confidence needed now

Six travel leaders got to share their challenges first-hand yesterday with federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan and federal Finance Minister Senator Simon Birmingham at a Tourism Round Table event organised by News Corp's Adelaide Advertiser.

Six travel leaders got to share their challenges first-hand yesterday with federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan and federal Finance Minister Senator Simon Birmingham at a Tourism Round Table event organised by News Corp’s Adelaide Advertiser.

The 90-minute event held at Sir Keith Murdoch House in the CBD was created to find solutions to barriers facing the still COVID-ravaged travel sector as it resumes the business of managing local and international travel.

Phil Hoffmann, from Phil Hoffmann Travel, Dennis Bunnik (Bunnik Tours), Ben Mead (Holidays of Australia), Adam Schwab (Luxury Escapes), Belle Goldie (i­travel) and Ryan Thomas (Ignite Travel) were all present to share the impacts on their respective businesses of two years restrictions and travel bans.

Pic: Keryn Stephens

Each of the six travel leaders got to present their points and needs for five minutes to the ministers, who then got the chance to ask questions.

All drove the same critical points but from different perspectives;

  • A lack of consumer confidence and lack of trust in government
  • A removal of the cruising ban needs to happen now
  • Difficulty of attracting staff back to industry due to uncertainty and lack of funds
  • Urgent need for additional funding and distribution of the $60m projected still to be in the Consumer Travel Support program – especially considering delay in recovery and the time lag in industry cash flows

The Q and A was then followed by an open discussion moderated by Adelaide Advertiser Editor Gemma Jones and included the following topics:

  • How to restart cruising
  • Victoria deciding booster shots are necessary for international tourists
  • How to lure inbound planes to bring big spending visitors as they will be needed for outbound tourists
  • How far ahead people now need to book for overseas holidays as the world as already opened up and a lot is booked out

What were the outcomes?

Pic: Keryn Stephens

Most importantly, the event was another invaluable opportunity for key travel representatives to stake a passionate and robust industry-wide case for the benefit of everyone to the two most important politicians relative to the travel sector.

Hopefully, Mr Tehan and Mr Birmingham listened, given their influence in the party room.

Mr Tehan backed the resumption of cruising, saying: “We are eager to get cruising moving, (but) the states have to say it clearly and publicly as ships need ports, and the states control the ports.”

“No one would be happier than me” to get all states to commit to relaunching cruises in March he said.

However, both Mr Tehan and Senator Birmingham were non-committal on additional funding but said they were going through the budget process at the moment.

Mr Tehan and Senator Birmingham stressed the need to let the world know Australia “is open for business.”

“We’ve got to get a lot more continuity domestically and then match that up with the international experience as well because we’ve got to be sending a signal a strong signal that we are open for business,” said Mr Tehan.

“We want people to come, and the more seamless you make it, the more people will come. And if you don’t make it seamless, they’ll look elsewhere,” he said.

Whether or not they fully understood the outbound story and the complexity of the challenges still facing the sector is another question.

You can read the full Adelaide Advertiser story and watch video snippets of the event here.