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What's The Plan With Reopening Inbound and Outbound Borders?

Fast-tracking the re-opening of domestic borders and re-birthing the next long-term tourism plan should be immediate priorities to help aid recovery of our beleaguered tourism industry says the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC).

Fast-tracking the re-opening of domestic borders and re-birthing the next long-term tourism plan should be immediate priorities to help aid recovery of our beleaguered tourism industry says the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC).

ATIC said the release of national domestic tourism data for August, and ongoing significant suppression of COVID community transmission across the country reinforced the need for action.

Tourism Research Australia’s August tourism analysis showed national Visitor Spend down 53%, Visitor Trips down 40% and Visitor Nights down 39% for August 2020 versus August last year.

During the 2020 calendar year to August, domestic visitation across Australia fell 42% and visitor spends a dramatic 47%, hard reflecting the massive impact of the COVID pandemic and bushfire crisis.

ATIC Executive Director Simon Westaway said with the nation proving its collective suppression of the virus, remaining State and Territory border blockages simply needed to be timetabled to lift.

“The impact of COVID-19 and the earlier bushfire crisis have delivered terrible domestic visitor spend and travel activity outcomes this year and recovery won’t be easy,” Mr Westaway said.

“A fully re-opened Australia to Australians is the best message we can send, giving confidence for a COVID safe return to travel amongst us, be it to holiday, visit family and friends and for business.”

ATIC Executive Director Simon Westaway

“Despite slow, but positive progress on domestic borders, including the soon re-opening between NSW and Victoria, the economic fallout from COVID will drag on if remaining border closures stay.

“A new national tourism and visitor economy strategy and plan, beyond the completed Tourism2020, also must now be expedited, including a sharp focus on sustainable recovery.

“ATIC calls for the re-boot of activity for a new tourism plan, Tourism2030, one that incorporates immediate actions to help best position Australian tourism within the new COVID economy.” Said Mr Westaway.

It’s a similar story for outbound travel and getting a green light or at least a timeline for the first approved international travel bubbles.

While a one-way inbound Trans-Tasman bubble has now been established with New South Wales, ACT, South Australia and Victoria with Tasmania soon to follow, the take-up has been slow with returning Kiwi’s still having to quarantine back in New Zealand identified as a key barrier for travel.

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Late last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern again put the eagerly anticipated plans for a reciprocal Trans-Tasman travel bubble before Chritsmas on ice, saying she wasn’t likely to alter “existing border settings” in the short-term.

While the New Zealand government reportedly continues to discuss cross-border logistics with Australia as well as Pacific nations, Ms Ardern has suggested this won’t be considered this year with “sometime” between Jan – March 2021 anticipated.

“New Zealanders want and deserve a safe summer holiday, so our focus is on managing the existing risk profile,” she said.

“We will be continuing with our existing border settings for now while we work on what can be accommodated within those settings.” Said Ms Ardern.

For all the latest TRA statistics, head to: www.tra.gov.au/domestic