The head of a prominent e-commerce youth work and travel company has backed calls from major travel and tourism industry bodies for the Federal Government to open Australia’s international borders to tourists.
Global Work & Travel CEO and co-founder, Jürgen Himmelmann has joined the growing number of travel industry folk calling on the government to allow tourists back into the country.
Himmelmann said while it was good to see that Australians could now enter and leave the country, it “made no sense” to keep the border closed to international tourists.
“The tourism sector has been closed to international tourists for just under two years now and much of the rest of the world has been allowing overseas visitors back in,” he said.
“Opening the international borders to at least the fully vaccinated should be a government priority right now. And the reality is that the Omicron variant is well and truly out in the Australian community, so what’s the point in keeping our borders closed? It makes no sense.
“The virus doesn’t have a nationality, it’s the same thing everywhere these days. It’s time to move forward.”
Peak tourism bodies including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) have been calling on the federal government to end all ongoing border restrictions in Australia so the tourism sector can begin to recover.
The Gold Coast-based company has international offices in London and Vancouver and is regarded as an industry leader in youth and general travel.
Himmelmann said other countries have begun to open up, with the UK and Norway both shedding themselves of restrictions preventing international tourism over the past week.
“Canada has been open to international tourists for six months now and, because of this, we’ve actually been rebooking working holidaymakers who’ve wanted to come to Australia, and getting them over to jobs in Canada instead,” he said.
“Canada has been allowing working holidaymakers in for most of the pandemic, as long as they had work permits. Tourists may have initially been prevented from entering, but the working travellers turned their attention to Canada instead.
“The reality is that we’re competing with the likes of Canada to attract working holidaymakers to help fill the tens of thousands of unfilled jobs in Australia. They’ll be instrumental in filling chronic labour shortages.
“In the UK, restrictions have been lifted for all incoming visitors and they won’t be requiring people arriving to test.”
Himmelmann said travellers of all types want to travel with confidence and not have the potential for borders to close again or quarantine to be re-introduced.
“This is all too late for the many tourism and hospitality businesses that have hit the wall during the border closures, but common sense surrounding the opening of our borders will save more operations from going under, which obviously results in job losses,” he added.
“The damage is done, it’s time to let these small business owners breathe again.”
The news followed the launch of a new product suite from Global Work & Travel aimed at the growing market for study and self-improvement.
The company is hoping to broaden its customer base from a predominantly younger demographic, releasing 13 international packages under its “Study” division for travellers aged between 18 and 85.
The trips include learning Japanese in Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukuoka; Spanish in Valencia and Costa Rica; Italian in Bologna; tango and photography (separately) in Buenos Aires; coffee making and cooking (separately) in Florence; and two separate marine science and scuba courses in False Bay, South Africa.
Featured image: Jurgen Himmelmann supplied)