Rachael Harding, Club Med Rachael Harding, Club Med

Recovery roadmap needed


Australian travel experts have called on the country’s government to provide a clear roadmap to travel restrictions easing, saying the confusion has been devastating for travel operators and travellers alike.

The comments were delivered at a virtual travel panel hosted by Club Med and panelists included Rachael Harding, general manager Pacific, Club Med; Susan Coghill, chief marketing officer, Tourism Australia; Richard Jones, regional head of marketing and sales, Cathay Pacific; and travel content creator, Sam Evans.

‘The latest travel ban extension has been the biggest call yet with the highest stakes. Consumers don’t know if they should hold onto their Christmas holiday dreams or start planning for the alternative which is causing a lot of additional pressure,’ Harding says. ‘We need to start factoring in not just the financial cost, but also emotional and mental impacts of these ongoing bans.’

With over 9.5million Australian’s travelling internationally each year, the panel stressed that whilst travel bubbles are a start, they are not a long-term solution. The industry will not rebound until international borders are open again and free movement is possible.

‘We need to learn how we can travel safely again and how we can live with this better, because it’s not going anywhere,’ says Jones.

Coghill calls the restrictions ‘devastating’ for Australia’s nation of travellers as well as travel operators suffering the ‘double whammy’ of bushfires last summer season but remained optimistic about our ability to recover.

“Travel demand will return and as soon as it does, Tourism Australia will be ready to go back and go back at scale,” Coghill said.

The panellists unanimously agree that Australians have not lost their love of travel, with travel operators still seeing positive signs that reflect a resilient travel market. Despite the restrictions many Australians are still planning their next holiday, as well as holding onto flights for January onwards, in the hope that restrictions will ease. ‘Ninety five percent of respondents in our recent travel sentiment survey said they would like to travel internationally within the next two years,’ Harding says