Life Travel Escape to the city? Australians urged to holiday at home as pandemic hits tourism sector

Escape to the city? Australians urged to holiday at home as pandemic hits tourism sector

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Australians are being urged to holiday in their own backyard as the nation’s tourism industry struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism Australia has launched a new campaign fronted by celebrity couple Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake to encourage holidaymakers to escape to one of the nation’s major cities, which have been hit hard by border closures, coronavirus lockdowns, and a lack of international visitors.

Australia’s tourism industry lost out on $6.8 billion between December 24 and January 31, research commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum found.

Researchers estimated that 320,000 tourism workers could potentially lose their jobs by September due to the lack of international visitors and continuing uncertainty over domestic borders.

Tourism Australia’s ‘City escapes’ push is the latest in its ‘Holiday here this year’ campaign, which aims to encourage visitors to return to cities among “some of the hardest-hit tourism destinations as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic”.

In October 2019 Tourism Australia launched a $38 million ‘Come live our philausophy’ campaign aimed at overseas travellers, with the slogan replacing the long-standing ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, but the pandemic halted international tourism soon after.

‘Come live our philausophy’ replaced ‘there’s nothing like Australia’ in 2019, but the pandemic has paused international tourism. Photo: Tourism Australia

With Australia’s international borders closed until at least June 17, holidaymakers are being urged to support the dining, entertainment, retail and cultural events on offer in their backyard.

“While our international borders remain closed and travel restrictions continue to fluctuate around the country, our cities run the risk of continuing to bear the brunt of this pandemic despite offering so many incredible, safe experiences and being more affordable than ever,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.

“We are calling on Australians to help support their fellow Australians by booking a city escape, which in turn will help to support the thousands of city-based hotels, restaurants, bars, cultural attractions and experiences that rely on tourism for their livelihoods.”

Foster and Foster-Blake said the pandemic made domestic travel a ‘unique’ experience.

Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake want Australians to explore cities. Photo: Tourism Australia

“At the moment our cities are full of Australians … that gives travelling such a unique vibe right now that we may never feel again. It’s like a big family holiday wherever you go,” the couple said.

Tourism Minister Dan Tehan also backed the campaign, saying that “every dollar spent on a holiday in Australia is a dollar that supports a tourism job and business and helps support our wonderful tourism sector”.

Overseas travel may be as far away as 2022

Qantas boss Alan Joyce announced last week the airline would push back the relaunch of international flights from July to October 31, but it’s far from a sure thing.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce is optimistic about resuming international travel.

Holidaying at home rather than overseas is a safer bet in 2021, University of Queensland tourism expert Pierre Benckendorff told The New Daily.

I would be very nervous about booking international travel before 2022,” Dr Benckendorff said.

“So my tips to Australians would be to go out and see your own backyard and enjoy seeing Australia.”

From Queensland beaches to Tasmanian wilderness, there are “attractions in plenty of places in Australia that are different to home that would make a very nice holiday”, Dr Benckendorff said.

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