Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with MTA’s Debbie Andrews

This week, we got up close and personal with an MTA senior travel specialist. Well, as close as you can get to someone during a pandemic. So, really, we got 1.5 metres away and semi-personal.

What are you reading?

A variety of suspense thrillers. Nothing too gory and nothing too sad, as emotions are still close to the surface. Although, I did finish Me Before You last week and cried most of that afternoon!

What are you watching?

I am not much of a TV fan, so it’s been a few of the travel programs featuring rail journeys of the world and documentaries on the ex-US presidents and royal family. Death in Paradise is my fun, ‘switch off’, light-hearted choice. I avoid mainstream news programs at all costs!

What are you listening to?

Always the 80s. Sad, I know.

What are you cooking?

Lots of nourishing slow-cooker recipes over winter, and now it’s more BBQs and salad. My kids love to bake and I found doing this with them was quite therapeutic (and messy). We’ve conquered muffins, a variety of biscuits and a beaut lemon cake.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I joined Cornerstone Learning for its Conscious Leadership program in conjunction with a Diploma in Hospitality management, and these 12 weeks helped me no end, from Kundalini yoga practices to positive mindset exercises, and the move towards more conscious leadership in a business role.

Walking, swimming and cycling always keep me going. That hasn’t changed, but perhaps I’ve had a bit more time to enjoy them.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

It took a while to find anything positive, I have to be honest. But, once the initial crisis of repatriating clients was over, the empathy, fellowship and teamwork of all those in the industry really showed what a unique bunch we are and why it hurts so much to watch what coronavirus is doing to our industry. It’s our passion and the love for what we do that unites us.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

Initially that I could really be classed as a human rollercoaster! But, after a few weeks, my ability to remain professional yet empathetic, and so much more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for. I realised I could change my mindset not to be the continuous victim, as difficult as some days are.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

Don’t feed on the news. Distance yourself from the self-righteous opinions on social media. We know our industry, we know it is suffering and we also know the joy it usually brings is gone for now, but we do not need to be reminded of this constantly. Take time out and do not apologise. for having this break

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

The NT.  From the Top End to the Red Centre. I ‘feel’ Australia here.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

I took six weeks at the end of 2018 to visit Europe in the wintertime with my family. We visited Santa in Lapland, the Christmas markets in Switzerland, had Christmas with my sister and her family in the UK, a few days in Paris, and visited friends in southern Germany and Austria.

It was a dream White Christmas and I feel eternally blessed for this opportunity.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

Back to Africa or Scandinavia, but I feel it will be a long time coming.

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