The federal government’s rough timeline for the reopening of Australia’s international border has prompted an urgent request from a senior tourism industry figure.
Peter Shelley, managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, has penned an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on the government to provide more clarity around when and how it will reopen the international border.
According to Federal Budget papers released earlier this month, it’s assumed that the reopening won’t happen until mid-2022.
You can read Shelley’s letter to the PM in full below…
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to you to seek urgent clarity on your plan for reopening our international borders and reconnecting Australian businesses to the global economy.
As we pass by yet another month of closures and continuing uncertainty, tourism export businesses are dismayed at the federal government’s lack of clarity or concern around setting a framework for reopening.
While the industry fully understands the importance of protecting the health of the Australian community, there is a desperate need for businesses to identify a clear roadmap by which they can plan and strategise for the future inbound tourism marketplace.
There is also significant concern at the slow rate at which the government is applying more sophisticated, multi-layered risk management processes that enables Australia to manage the COVID-19 risk offshore. Managing this risk through extensive pre-departure testing, tracking and tracing technology will minimise the chance of COVID-19 entering Australia and in doing so, avoid the significant costs incurred in managing the exposure to the community which we are experiencing through the current on-shore quarantine processes.
The impacts on pure export tourism businesses are direct and clear: without international visitors they have no clients, no income and increasingly, no future. More broadly for the tourism industry and many others, closed borders mean not only a limited client base, but chronic staff shortages and the increasing risk of disconnection from the global marketplace and future growth opportunities.
While some businesses in our industry are surviving with an increase in domestic travel, this surge is short term and will no doubt change dramatically once our borders reopen and Australians can travel overseas again. We simply can’t afford to be complacent and accept this short-term situation as a long-term comfort. Without international visitors, our industry will slip, taking us back to a period where Australia was seen internationally as an expensive, inaccessible and unsophisticated destination.
We urge the government to come forth quickly with a framework for reopening – one that outlines the conditions under which our borders will begin to open, and one that recognises that Australia needs to get back in the game of international trade before we lose ground to those countries which have been able to vaccinate their citizens and move forward with rebuilding their economies and international engagement.
We look forward to your urgent response.
Australian Tourism Export Council
Featured image source: iStock/Natalia Shabasheva