The wheels of tourism are beginning to turn, with border restrictions easing near and far. Huzzah!
Queensland eases intrastate travel restrictions
From midday today, Queenslanders will be able to travel anywhere in Queensland and enjoy overnight stays, after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a major easing of restrictions by fast tracking restrictions set to ease on 12 June.
According to ABC News, Palaszczuk said she was “opening the doors” to Queensland tourism, and encouraged people to take trips to places they had not been before.
The Premier said the announcement made the whole state of Queensland its own “travel bubble”. However, restrictions remain in place for Indigenous communities, where travel is restricted under the biosecurity act.
Gatherings of up to 20 people would also be allowed, according to the Premier.
The news was welcomed by the North Queensland tourism and hospitality industry, including Tourism Whitsundays.
Moreover, in the lead-up to the previous expected border opening date, Destination Gold Coast released a playful video as it excitedly prepares to welcome back visitors to the region, which you can view below.
Greece to open border to internationals
Greece will begin accepting international visitors as of 15 June, as the Greek government looks to mitigate some of the financial damage from the coronavirus pandemic ahead of its summer vacation season.
According to AP News, a limited number of international flights will continue only being allowed to land at Athens International Airport until 15 June.
Per European Union policy, every arriving passenger must be tested for the virus and stay overnight at a designated hotel.
However, the Greek Tourism Ministry had earlier listed 29 countries from where it would accept visitors, which included Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
The ministry later clarified that Greece would not limit arrivals to people coming from the 29 countries, and said that those that were not on the list would be subject to mandatory coronavirus testing upon arrival and a quarantine period of “one or two weeks”, AP News reported.
Israel seeks quarantine-free travel with Australia
The Guardian has reported that Israel is seeking to introduce direct flights to Australia and waive quarantine requirements for travellers by December.
It reportedly comes as countries that have so far successfully contained COVID-19 jostle to be the next destination added to the Australia-New Zealand tourism bubble.
Israel, which is seeking to make permanent the roughly 17-hour direct flight from Tel Aviv to Melbourne or Sydney, is also working with other nations to position itself as a gateway hub for Australian travellers to transit quarantine-free on their way to European countries considered safe.
According to The Guardian, Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, said the plan would be “a win-win-win” for Australians and Israelis.
He noted that both countries were working on plans to rescue their tourism-reliant economies and to provide their airlines with commercially viable routes that would not require quarantine.
Western Australia jumps to Phase 3 with Rottnest to reopen
The McGowan government has announced Phase 3 of the roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions in WA, with significant changes coming into effect from Saturday 6 June.
Travel will now be permitted throughout Western Australia, including into the Kimberley region, pending the Commonwealth’s approval to remove the Biosecurity Area on 5 June.
However, access into remote Aboriginal communities will remain prohibited.
In addition, Phase 3 will include the reopening of Rottnest Island to the general public, and wildlife and amusement parks to accommodate more than 300 patrons.
In other good news, Western Australia’s regional tourism industry is set for a boost with the state government supporting over 70 regional events around WA with $1 million of funding.
Events awarded funding for the first time through the scheme this year include Bunbury Fringe 2021 (South-West), Get Hooked Fishing Festival (Wheatbelt) and the South Festival (Pilbara).
Seven events were also awarded funding under the Regional Aboriginal Events Scheme, to showcase Aboriginal activities and experiences, and encourage Aboriginal leadership and participation.
Due to potential future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WA government said successful funding applicants for the 2020 to 2021 scheme have been given the option of holding their event at any time up until 31 December 2021.
Sydney attractions reopen
Taronga Zoo Sydney will today reopen to the public, offering guests the chance to reconnect with animals and nature, enjoy time safely with family and friends, and even meet some new faces with the arrival of Giraffe mother and calf, Kito and Ebo, from Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Following advice provided by the NSW Health Department and the state and federal government, daily visitor numbers will initially be lower than normal capacity at Taronga Zoo, and guests, including zoo friends, will need to register their visit online before attending the zoo.
Furthermore, the QBE Free Flight Bird Show (pictured) and Seals for the Wild (powered by Red Energy) presentation will operate with reduced audiences, while keeper talks will not resume at this time but can be viewed online at TarongaTV.com.
Hygiene measures including extra sanitising stations, signage encouraging social distancing and increased cleaning have also been put in place throughout the zoo.
Merlin Entertainments is also reopening its Darling Harbour attractions today, including SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds Sydney.
Extra hygiene and safety measures have been in place to ensure peace of mind, health and safety, including completely cashless operations, lowering capacity limits with allocated time-slots for guests and the use of additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and clothing for staff.
Further measures include the provision of spatial separation markings, the installation of hygiene screens in various areas, enhanced cleaning regimes and other similar operating adjustments around the attractions.
Businesses must complete ‘COVID-Safe Plan’ before reopening: SATC
The South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) has reminded its members that if they were forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, today is their final day to complete a ‘COVID-Safe Plan’, which is a requirement before being allowed to reopen.
The COVID-Safe Plan is designed to capture how tourism businesses, their staff and their patrons can be kept safe from the risk of COVID-19 – information that must be made available on business premises.
It comes as the tourism commission announced the difficult decision to not deliver the 2020 edition of Tasting Australia presented by RAA Travel in October as planned.
SATC is preparing for its return in 2021 from 30 April to 9 May, and said the decision was made due to the immediate need to support the industry, allow business owners to focus on reopening and rebuilding, and the ongoing uncertainty over mass gatherings and restrictions around national and international travel.
New Caledonia Tourism uploads immersive virtual experiences
New Caledonia Tourism has launched a new virtual hub filled with immersive videos and images to discover a taste of the South Pacific destination until borders reopen.
Head to newcaledonia.travel to explore the flavours of New Caledonia with recipes inspired by the destination, chill out with a range of relaxing music videos set to soothing views of New Caledonia’s landscapes or get your adrenaline pumping with a 360 degree video experience – such as skydiving over New Caledonia’s UNESCO World Heritage listed lagoon.
New content will be launched on the hub and via New Caledonia’s social media each week.
Sri Lanka COVID-19 task force committee submits proposal to reopen borders by August
The Sri Lankan task force committee entrusted with COVID-19 control has proposed that the country reopen its airports for international tourists from 1 August as the country gradually returns to “normalcy”.
According to a statement, the committee members had pointed out that it has been a “remarkable achievement” that the country has not reported a positive COVID-19 case since 30 April.
A virtual journey to Japan’s historical treasures
Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Japan National Tourism Organization are proud to present the Japan Heritage website, providing virtual reality and video content for international travellers unable to visit the country.
According to the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Heritage is a diverse selection of cultural properties designated by the agency, with assets ranging from some of this nation’s most famous locations to hidden gems almost unknown outside Japan.
Click here to check it out for yourself.
Meditate to the sounds of Vanuatu
The Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) has launched a five-minute guided meditation, as part of the ‘We’ll Keep it Beautiful for You’ campaign launched in April 2020.
Available on VTO’s Facebook page, the guided meditation is set to the relaxing sounds of the island’s natural surrounds.
VTO’s guided meditation was developed in conjunction with Kory McAvoy, founder of wellbeing and lifestyle school, The Academy of Grounding, and features the rushing waterfall at Mele Cascades in Efate; lapping waves at Port Olry in Santo; and the hum of the rainforest in Tanna.
These sounds have been carefully selected and recorded to transport listeners to the islands of Vanuatu, until they are able to return to the islands in person.
Reminder: three more meetings left in Switzerland Tourism’s upskilling sessions
Agents are being reminded that the limited series of Switzerland Tourism’s live upskilling sessions will run for three more days on 2, 4 and 9 June at 3pm (AEST) and 5pm (NZST).
The final sessions will cover the Schilthorn (aka James Bond Mountain), Zermatt and the Swiss Travel System.
Furthermore, three types of Victorinox prizes up for grabs for live participants, so agents will need to tune in until the end of each session to answer a few questions to be in the running.
It comes as the tourism authority unveiled a mix of destination images for travel agents to use to curate their next Zoom chat.
Click here to download a mix of alpine country and Swiss cityscape images.
Birdsville Races 2020 cancelled, dates announced for 2021 event
Organisers of the Birdsville Races have announced that the outback event will not be staged in 2020. The event will run again in 2021 on 3 and 4 September.
The Birdsville Races, known as the Melbourne Cup of the outback, have been held since 1882, with the races last cancelled in 2007 due to equine influenza.
The two-day spectacular of outback thoroughbred racing – synonymous with plumes of striking red dust as horses thunder down the Simpson Desert track – was set to run on 4 and 5 September this year.
Tourism Ireland launches new ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ webinar series
Tourism Ireland is delighted to offer a new ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ webinar series, with episodes delivered every month beginning 3 June 2020.
Through this new format travel agents, will have the opportunity to hear directly from Irish attraction, accommodation, and experience providers, and engage with them through live Q&A sessions.
The first webinar of the series will be streamed on Wednesday 3 June, at 4pm (AEST), with a focus on Northern Ireland, featuring guest industry speakers from Tourism Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast, Hastings Hotels, and Dalriada Kingdom Tours.
Click here to register for the new Fill Your Heart With Ireland webinar series.
Featured image: iStock/hypergurl