Tourism Australia on May 16-17 organized a virtual event “Live from Aus” on Facebook took viewers to 36 destinations. The weekend event was filled with famous Australian travel experiences and hosted by chefs, zookeepers and Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainers.
Matt Wright who hosts the TV show “Outback Wrangler,” introduced the audiences to a couple of crocodiles before taking to the sky to present the best of Northern Territory.
“Everyone has been cooped up in units and apartments, so what we have is very appealing in terms of the wide-open spaces and beautiful landscapes,” Wright told CNN while a crocodile snapped playfully at his feet.
The initiative is a part of an ongoing drive by Tourism Australia to encourage Aussies to get out of their homes and visit local attractions as the lockdown is lifted and travel is safer. The COVID-19 has suspended international travel for the foreseeable future and there is a dire need for domestic tourist to fill the void or at least start something as a first step towards recovery.
“Sixty percent of our consumers plan to take a holiday as soon travel restrictions are lifted,” explained Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia.
“We are a nation of travelers. Australians took 6.5 million outbound trips last year. There is a real opportunity to encourage those people, taking those trips, to discover their own backyard.”
“The restart of travel is going to be gradual. We will start with a day trip to enjoy local gems or have a food and wine experience. That will then progress to overnight stays locally and then potentially inter-state. Then, hopefully in the long term, international travel.”
Australians have been lauded for their efforts to flatten curve and now all the focus is to protect the country from a second wave of coronavirus as the lockdown curbs are eased.
PM Scot Morrison, earlier this month argued that the country “cannot allow our fear of going backward stop us from going forwards.”
Australia with a 3-phase map to reopen now in place is expecting to reach the final stage of the plan by July. This would allow majority of offices and businesses including clubs, pubs, fitness centers and interstate level to be reopened. A trans-Tasman “travel bubble” between Australia and New Zealand is also on the cards. However, this depends on the domestic realities and goals achieved by the nations after the processing and results of the 3-stage plan.
“We are seeing overall domestication of travel. It is certainly the immediate opportunity for any travel industry around the world,” Harrison said. “I think it is a big opportunity for the US market.”
Australia suffered the worst bushfire season ever recorded before the unfolding of corona pandemic. The horrendous wildfires burned 18mn hectares of land with at least 33 people and over a billion animals killed by inferno. The country was crippled with the devastating droughts in nightmare year.
“Tourism in Australia accounts for one in 13 jobs. The whole industry virtually shut overnight,” Harrison says. “In the absence of that, regional communities especially are really suffering… Tourism is their lifeblood.”
“Once we show people it is safe to get out and travel, we think people will come back at scale,” Harrison reasoned. “They key to that will be how the industry responds, and the protocols they put in place to ensure guest safety. We, as an industry, are working very hard on that.”