For many Melburnians a trip to the supermarket or a walk in the park is the closest they’ve gotten to escaping the walls of their all-too-familiar homes in recent times. The pictures littered all over news and social media sites showing the eerie vacant tourist attractions and holiday destinations around the world seem like that of a dystopian movie.
From the bushfires that took out 18.6 million hectares of land, to the pandemic that has stopped the world, Australia’s small communities who rely on tourism and economy have been hit hard.
According to Economic Modelling undertaken by the Tourism and Transport Forum estimates that Australia has lost $2 billion per month in the tourism industry since March.
Eve Costopoulos is the owner of Delta Holidays, a travel and tourism agency based in Melbourne, and her company has witnessed first-hand the impact of COVID-19. She believes that the events of 2020 have “crippled” the Australian travel and tourism industry in ways never experienced before.
“Already reeling from the devastating bushfires, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the industry with enforced lockdowns and border closures effectively bringing the industry to a grinding halt,” Costopoulos told upstart.
A survey conducted by The University of Queensland in April shows hope for the future of domestic travel with more than 50 percent of Australians wanting to travel within the country when restrictions lift.
Costopoulos also believes that there will be a high demand for domestic travel once more restrictions lift across the country.
“People will want to visit friends and family, to go on vacation. Australians love to travel and until our national border reopens and international travel confidence is restored, there will be pent-up demand for local travel or longer domestic trips further afield,” she said.
For Jade Guest, her husband Jaryd and their two dogs Winnie and Roo, their long-awaited trip to travel Australia began back in February after they both quit their jobs to travel the country. For the last six months they have been on the road supporting small communities across the country and Guest says it has been an experience like no other.
“We were in the remote South of the Northern Territory sitting at a roadhouse to escape the flies when a tour bus pulled up and all we could hear was ‘Covid this, Covid that’,” Guest told upstart. “We literally hadn’t heard of it before that moment as we rarely connect online to the news or follow along with the media.”
While their original plan before COVID-19 was to make their way up the West Coast, across the NT and explore the far north of Queensland, the couple has taken the opportunity to slow down and enjoy their time on the road.
Guest believes that COVID-19 will give Australians a “push in the right direction” to explore more of their own country rather than overseas travel. The demand for domestic travel gives small communities hope for the future of local tourism.
“Support small businesses, see as much as you can in the area that you’re allowed to travel within, learn as much as you can about different outdoor activities that tickle your fancy and share positive feedback with others about your experiences. Keep the country clean and safe for all to enjoy,” Guest said.
2020 has seen a resurgence of camping and road tripping which Eve Costopoulos believes it shows a “turning tide” away from air travel. The popularity of this form of travel has forced travel and tourism agencies to rethink how they will cater to a changed industry. Costopoulos has invested in new strategies to keep their company afloat by focusing on providing for travel within the country.
“We are investing in marketing strategies to build brand value and awareness, and to engage customers to stay top of mind for when we can travel again. We will focus primarily on offering and promoting more domestic product,” she said.
While the future of travel is up in the air, the border closures around the world will give people the opportunity to explore their own countries. Here in Australia, Costopoulos is convinced that travel will return once consumer confidence is restored.
“While there is a lot of uncertainty right now around the future of travel, we as humans will still want to connect with one another and explore the world,” she said.
Article: Megan Lansbury is a second-year Bachelor of Media and Communications student (Journalism) at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @MeganLouise0211
Photo: Red Airplane by Tanathip available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has been modified.