The recovery for Australia’s inbound tourism industry will rely heavily on the approval of China’s Sinovac vaccine, according to the head of the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).
Last week, Margy Osmond told a parliamentary committee that the government needed to recognise vaccines from Australia’s largest inbound markets.
She said that as the world begins to accept COVID-19 as an endemic disease, travel bubbles will be largely forgotten and travel will mostly depend on which vaccines are approved by a destination’s government.
“Our biggest market up until now has been China, so are we going to recognise Sinovac?” Osmond asked the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee.
“Our biggest potential market is India – well, which vaccinations from India will we accept?
“The EU, for example, won’t accept AstraZeneca that is made in India. Will they accept AstraZeneca that is made in Australia? We don’t know that yet.”
In July, it was revealed that both the Australian and Indian-made AstraZeneca jab may not qualify travellers to enter the European Union without undergoing quarantine and testing.
Despite both versions being made exactly the same as those administered in the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium, the European Medicines Agency has not approved CSL’s Melbourne facility or India’s Serum Institute of India.
“Where do you promote Australia? Where do you spend your promotion dollar on getting people to come to Australia if you don’t know which vaccines from which countries you’re going to accept?” Osmond said.
TTF’s chief executive warned that by September, the tourism and transport industry will have lost 610,000 jobs, meaning half of the industry has “literally disappeared”.
If the government doesn’t reintroduce JobKeeper or something like it, the industry will lose a further 150,000 jobs between now and the middle of next year, according to Osmond.
“I hate to be Madam Doom and Gloom, but there are some very significant issues and problems for our sector,” she said.
“I’m watching an industry fail around me.
“We thought COVID was bad last year, but this year is in fact much worse in the sense that we no longer have JobKeeper to support the industry, which has been a critical prop.”
Travel Weekly has reached out to DFAT and the Department of Health to find out if or when the government will approve vaccines for our largest inbound markets.
Featured image source: iStock/Chalffy