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Tourism Whitsundays update April 23, 2020

By Ray White Whitsunday

Tourism and Events Queensland has been providing a range of useful information for us to review and keep in mind when planning next steps into recovery. Yesterday, we received some insights into domestic outbound travel which was interesting for the industry to note. In the year ending September 2019, 9.9 million Australian residents travelled overseas (57% for a holiday, 23% for VFR, 18% for business & 2% other), of this 1.7 million of them were Queenslanders and 57% of these were for holiday purposes.  The total number of travellers accounts for a $53.9b expenditure – which now, is unlikely to travel overseas for the next 12 months. The most popular destinations that Australians visited were (in order of popularity):

  1. Indonesia = 1,091,000
  2. New Zealand = 1,001,000
  3. USA = 679,000
  4. Other Europe = 526,000
  5. United Kingdom = 504,000
  6. Thailand = 424,000
  7. China = 382,000
  8. Japan = 370,000
  9. Other Asia = 352,000
  10. India = 282,000

And for Queenslanders, New Zealand was the most popular destination for residents accounting for 17% of all leisure trips with 41% of these trips taken for VFR purposes. The order of preference was:

  1. New Zealand = 238,000
  2. Indonesia = 147,000
  3. USA = 122,000
  4. United Kingdom = 105,000
  5. Other Europe = 75,000
  6. Japan = 68,000
  7. Thailand = 66,000
  8. Fiji = 60,000
  9. Other Asia = 57,000
  10. Other Pacific (excluding Hawaii) = 52,000

Last night, Tourism and Events Queensland provided updates to Regional Tourism Organisations on insights and updates from Europe and UK markets. Following this, Kai Ostermann, International Director for TEQ Europe, provided an excellent overview of what is happening in Germany right now. Given this is one of our key source markets, and one that is likely to return first, I wanted to share some of the key points with you.

At the national level, there was a noticeable increase in outbound holidays in the September quarter and a decline in intrastate holiday trips through the second half of the calendar year. However, travellers from Queensland tend to take holiday trips evenly across the year.

  • At present various European countries are slowly relaxing their coronavirus restrictions with Germany/Austria and Denmark taking the lead and Sweden continuing their relaxed approach.
  • Many positive developments are surfacing. Although health remains the top priority, governments are cautiously beginning to revive their economies while reconciling health and economic objectives. A new normal is emerging.
  • As long as a vaccine is not available, society must reorganise itself. All necessary health precautions must be balanced while great efforts must be put forward to restart the dormant economies. Restricted social interactions and activities must be made possible. Furthermore, we must learn to tackle possible future virus pandemics, as the world cannot repeatedly be shut down for many months.
  • In Germany retail shops (up to 800 sqm) are open again since Monday, including travel agencies.
  • People are looking for distraction and start to plan their next holidays. Thus, we need to be very present and create inspiration and awareness to drive this potential demand into the trade for consultancy for year-end conversion. The feedback we get from our KDPs is rather promising. Lots of clients would like to rebook Australia.
  • Our virtual online traveller on Facebook reached 430,000 people through our organic posts and 56,000 people engaged. This is massive for us.
  • Trade engaging webinars we are conducting in coop with TA have seen record participation:
    • 430 agents registered in Italy 2 weeks ago. For the next one, tomorrow, 200 agents registered.
    • Nordic had 90 agents yesterday, and France has 90 registrations for tomorrow. So you see the trade is hungry for information. I am sure our programs in Germany will also hit high attendance.
  • Press and Publicity are more important than ever with travel editions in newspapers returning. Our press release program has been very well perceived.

So how do we see the future in Europe?

  • Masks will be accepted as a part of normal everyday life as they are already in many Asian countries. The use of Corona Tracking Apps will increase – depending on data protection laws in the respective countries.
  • Social distancing and frequent hand washing practices are also here to stay for the foreseeable future.
  • Restaurants, offices and shops are upgrading their hygiene regimens and systems to protect both their employees and their customers.
  • At first, there will surely be a decrease in travel, for the time being, as video conferencing and IT competence have been established, and household incomes have fallen.
  • However, the financial support European governments have injected is massive – second to none. Plus, industrial production has been reactivated in many sectors, e.g. VW and BMW are back at work.
  • Europe shows how it works: Smaller countries, already closely connected to each other, are likely to relax their mutual borders or border regulations sooner. In essence, we expect this to happen in June.
  • Long-distance travel will gradually return, too. Long-haul destinations have not lost their fascination. The attraction of discovering foreign cultures and landscapes will remain unbroken.
  • Countries with excellent health care systems, high hygiene standards, and good infrastructure, such as Australia, will be the clear winners.
  • Airlines have to comply with special health care concepts to protect their guests from check-in to arrival. Free middle seats as a new, safe standard are conceivable.
  • It is possible that only verifiably healthy people with a “digital immunity pass” will be allowed to enter or leave foreign countries.
  • Airports, in turn, must also implement new health standards, such as temperature measurements for arriving passengers or medical control zones, or separation of passengers from risk or non-risk countries. Resulting in expenses that are cushioned by higher airport taxes. The limited supply of airlines is also likely to cause an increase in airfares. Immigration authorities now also focus on health issues apart from illegal immigration, crime and terrorism.
  • Cruises which have been accommodating a growing number of people in limited spaces hardly seem to be an acceptable travel option in the future. Strictest hygiene regulations will become necessary.

In the future, laws will be instituted to prevent over-tourism, especially as the world population will continue to grow rapidly.

Source: Tourism Whitsundays

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