Some of the biggest players in the Aussie travel space have put their names on an open letter to state premiers urging them to keep interstate borders open.
The letter, which was penned by Craig Bradbery, chief operating officer of Baillie Lodges, has attracted the signatures of some of the industry’s biggest names as well as small operators and appeals to state leaders to restore interstate travel and protect the Aussie tourism market.
Signatories to date include Flight Centre Travel Group managing director Graham Turner, Spicers Retreats owner and founder Jude Turner, Helloworld Travel CEO Andrew Burnes and executive director Cinzia Burnes, and Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton, just to name a few.
“Until now, the tourism industry has, as a collective, remained optimistic in the belief that better times are ahead,” the letter reads.
“The industry has worked diligently to keep up the positive stories and to communicate with our local and overseas guests, all with an underlying objective to keep our employees at work and our businesses sustainable.
“This should have been our moment, as Australian tourism operators, to welcome a whole new domestic market to experience our destinations and products, with direct benefit to the local economies and communities they support.”
The letter points to the events of recent weeks, in particular, the ongoing changes to policy around borders and access for interstate travellers as having resulted in “crippling uncertainty among tourism operators and would-be travellers alike”.
“Guests who had previously been prepared to postpone travel have now cancelled in light of the latest announcements on long term border closures,” the letter read.
“Fundamentally, we have seen these decisions erode confidence in the domestic tourism product and foresee serious, long-term damage to Australian tourism as a result.”
The letter said that when the JobKeeper program ends in March 2021, it is likely that many existing tourism businesses will not be around to provide employment opportunities or tourism experiences for Australians.
“When international borders reopen, it is likely that the tourism industry will be so diminished that we will not be able to accommodate the number of international visitors that Australia needs to bolster our economy,” it said.
“We need interstate borders to remain open. We need certainty that domestic travel is accessible so that Australians can recommence making travel plans and so we can get employees and businesses back to work.
“We implore you now to desist from making announcements that erode this confidence. We implore you to stop spending public money on border closures.
“We implore you to work quickly and collaboratively with neighbouring states to install screening protocols for travellers and to implement logical solutions which will allow interstate travel to recommence in a safe and sustainable manner.
You can read the full letter and support the campaign here.
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