Aviation

Australia’s Tourism Restart Taskforce says preparedness of airlines, airports critical in reviving international travel

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Australian Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Restart Taskforce believes the preparedness of airlines and airports will play a critical role in restarting international travel.

After expressing “deep frustration over the reoccurring message that tourism is going okay” during its September meeting, the Tourism Restart Taskforce – whose members include Graham Turner, Jacqui Walshe, and Denis Pierce – revealed it had reviewed its international travel restart proposal.

The proposal presents a staged plan for reopening, which includes a plan for the restart of international travel through “safe corridors” that was shared with the Friends of Tourism event, attended by federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham.

However, despite the meeting lacking a representative from Australia’s airlines or airports, the Tourism Restart Taskforce said in its latest meeting minutes that international travel’s restart was dependent on the “preparedness of airlines and airports”, and a better understanding was needed about their activities.

“In particular, testing mechanisms and control of passenger flow to keep separated quarantine passengers from … travellers arriving who will not require quarantine, such as from New Zealand,” it said.

“The potential success of rapid testing could also make a significant difference. It was identified that one common approach was needed from all of tourism to ensure that the government was not needing to review multiple pathways to [the restart of] international travel.”

Importantly, it was identified that a common approach was needed from all of tourism to ensure the Commonwealth did not need to review multiple pathways to the restart of international travel.

The taskforce also reviewed the proposed “Tourism Restart Timetable 2.0”, which it said reflects what industry feels are “realistic restart targets for governments and health authorities to consider given the current COVID conditions”.

It comes after the Tourism Restart Taskforce released its first proposed tourism restart timetable, aiming for medium- to long-term recovery of international travel to begin by mid-October.

A return of travel between Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific had been proposed for July.

The new timetable focuses on restriction easing in Victoria, followed by state borders reopening and the restart of international travel, both inbound and outbound.

The taskforce discussed the timetable, including noting that the two-square-metre rule for dining, while implemented in some jurisdictions, has not been adopted in all states and territories and needs to be included in the timetable. Subject to the insertion of dining, the timetable was approved.

In terms of the upcoming federal Budget, the Tourism Restart Taskforce said overall sentiment received from the Commonwealth was that it would focus on entire economy issues instead of “industry-specific support”.

However, this comes after both the Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) and Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) programs – which have provided more than $150 million to Australian airlines – were extended to 31 January 2021 and 28 March 2021, respectively.

“Given the absence of a timetable beyond July, or greater certainty, the industry is in desperate need of a realistic outlook until the end of 2020 and beyond,” the taskforce said.

It was agreed that more industry insight is needed to help guide the understanding of the implications of business insolvency under various circumstances.

The importance of survey work to ascertain what the implications of various conditions would be on businesses futures was also discussed.

The next meeting of the taskforce is set for Monday 19 October 2020.


Featured image source: iStock/PeopleImages

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