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“It is outrageous”: Bruce Poon Tip’s take on Australia’s international travel ban

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip has expressed his shock over Australia’s tough international travel stance, saying the lack of clarity around a reopening timeline has made it difficult for the adventure travel company to time its restart Down Under.

Speaking at Travel DAZE 2021 earlier this week, Poon Tip said that from the outside, Australia’s border restrictions seem “very harsh” and “difficult to understand”.

“It is outrageous to us. Australia took a stance early that every life mattered and one death was too many … and [when there was] a handful of cases, they were prepared to lock down and put restrictions on immediately,” he said.

“As the rest of the world is starting to open up now 14 to 15 months later [and] vaccines are available, we need to open the world – we just can’t stay closed.

“And Australia is still pushing to be closed until midway into 2022, which I think is a pretty outrageous decision. It’s hard to understand from outside.

“With the few cases that you’ve had – there’s been sacrifices in every country, there’s been deaths, various variants, second waves we’ve all had to withstand – but Australia and New Zealand have taken a very aggressive stance from the very beginning, and from the outside, it’s very difficult to understand.”

Poon Tip said that while the federal government has flagged mid-next-year for an expected reopening of Australia’s international border, it’s “still just a maybe”, and this lack of clarity was making it hard for G Adventures to plan the resumption of its local operations.

“If you decide to open tomorrow, we can’t just start running trips the following week – it has to be carefully planned,” he explained.

“We’ve all downsized and downscaled in those regions, and now we have to scale back up, and we can’t do that when we don’t have a clear direction from government about what the path is to opening.

“You don’t have any definitive dates or definitive timelines, and no one can be completely definitive, but I think there’s a feeling that the government of Australia isn’t motivated to open, whereas in the UK, even though we don’t have as much information, we know the government is highly motivated to open its borders.”

During his Travel DAZE session, Poon Tip revealed that G Adventures was looking to “get serious” about seeking M&A opportunities with the help of private equity partner Certares from July.

“G Adventures is in hibernation right now, so we had to take care of our own business first,” he said.

“We’re in a better position to have look at things, and there are a few great opportunities for us to look at now, and we’ve looked at some that didn’t work out for us – that weren’t right for us in the moment.

“We are looking outside of our specific sector of the travel industry. We’ve looked at a couple of technology companies, and we looked at a hotel which would vertically integrate into our business now.”

You can watch Poon Tip’s Travel DAZE session in full, on demand HERE.

 


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