Australian travel tragics in 2021 are like a genie in a bottle.
But once our vaccine rates catch up to countries like the United States’ – and once borders open – travel operators reckon we will see the release of huge pent up demand. Though there is no definite date for this, with no clear plan for exactly what it will take to open the borders as of yet from the government, borders have been tipped by experts to open at some point in (probably well into) 2022.
Demographics Group executive director Bernard Salt told the ABC recently he imagined “the websites for the airlines will be swamped immediately” when Australia’s travel ban lifts, whenever that may be.
Chief Customer Officer at Luxury Escapes, Jason Shugg, likewise told DMARGE when asked if Luxury Escapes was predicting a travel boom when borders open, “Yes definitely, we are seeing so much pent up demand.”
“A recent Luxury Escapes survey revealed that overseas travel is the number one reason Australians want to get vaccinated, with another 87% of Australians saying they plan to travel internationally when they are fully vaccinated.”
“Australians are a nation of travellers and despite the consistent disruptions brought about by the pandemic, our data consistently shows that we remain as hungry as ever to explore the world.”
Brett Mitchell, Managing Director of Intrepid Travel, the largest adventure travel company in the world, told DMARGE Intrepid Travel was “excited to get Australian travellers exploring and supporting local communities across the world post-pandemic” but that there are still a lot of things that need to happen first.
“Tourism is a vital source of income for many economies and communities, but we do need to ensure that travel reopens safely and that vaccines are available to many more people globally.”
“In the meantime, we encourage all Australians who are eligible to get vaccinated, and urge the Australian government to open up discussion for allowing freedom of movement for people who are fully vaccinated.”
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“As all businesses,” Mr Mitchell added, “We hope to see borders opening up safely next year. However, we know that more Australians need to get vaccinated first and we also need to see more vaccines in other countries around the world, to ensure tourism can reopen safely in other communities, too.”
“What we’re seeing in the US shows that there is definitely pent up demand for travel, but the lack of leadership here has really diminished Australia’s confidence when it comes to travel.”
“We hope that a clear roadmap will help give travellers more peace of mind when it comes to booking future trips.”
When it comes to how travel operators worldwide should brace for this Australian border opening boom – whether it occurs in 2022 (fingers crossed) or 2030 (imagine that) – Mr Shugg told DMARGE, for its part, Luxury Escapes would be preparing for it by being agile, communicating consistently with partners around the world and launching enticing travel initiatives.
“Like other travel companies, this past year has forced us to be agile. When the pandemic hit, we worked hard with our suppliers in cruise, tours, flights and accommodation to extend travel dates and validity periods for years in advance. Once we got through the first wave of helping tens of thousands of customers change their bookings due to border closures and lockdowns, we got to work on making Luxury Escapes even better and developing new products.”
“We created new products to sit alongside our classic Limited Time Exclusive deals, by introducing thousands of new hotels available all year round with our Lux Premium Collection and Lux Partner Properties. Added to this is a new search feature making it even easier to find a tailor-made deal for you. We also quickly switched to a Buy Now Book Later model which allows our members to book a Luxury Escape, without having to commit to a date.”
“Generally we have found that people still want something to look forward to.”
“We recently announced a $200 million vaccine incentive where we are giving away $200 vouchers to members who have started their vaccination program towards international travel. To coincide with this announcement, we launched some incredible international deals available for travel in 2023 and beyond.”
“We launched this incentive to encourage more Australians to get vaccinated and get us closer to opening our borders and travel internationally again. We are in consistent communication with hotel partners across the world so that when the time comes, we will be ready with a selection of luxury escape options for Australians to choose from.”
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So: Europeans probably have a year to enjoy their pebbled beaches and cobblestoned streets free of pissing and vomiting Australians? Yes and no. As Mr Shugg told DMARGE, this stereotype of Australians as liabilities is “well past its use by date.” In fact, an influx of post-pandemic Australian travellers flitting the globe is something to welcome.
“What we know is that Austalians travel for a multitude of reasons. In our Travel Trends report for 2021, released in December last year the top three interests when travelling were food (51%), local culture (44%) and winery, distilleries & breweries (31%).”
“While Aussies are known to enjoy our beer and we are home to some of the world’s most well known wine regions, we are also one of the most cultured travelling nations on the planet. We are more driven by a thirst for adventure and exploration than for drunken antics.”
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What will the demographic of Australian travellers look like when the borders open? On this, Mr Shugg said: “It will take a bit of time, but I believe we will return to the level of international travel we saw pre-covid.”
“Our data shows that Aussies are keen to get back into it as soon as possible. I anticipate it will go in phases; most likely the braver among us such as younger generations who had to delay gap year backpacking plans [will go first], followed by working professionals who will need to start travelling for work again and then eventually confidence levels will grow and more of the population will (hopefully) be travelling than ever before.”