With another two weeks of lockdown just announced, Victorian tourism businesses have effectively been told to close until Victoria and Australia reach the 70%-80% vaccination thresholds.
Consumer confidence is at levels not seen before during this pandemic and as the rest of the world opens up, we in Victoria have been locked down again with the added burden of a nighttime curfew.
Each time a new lockdown in Victoria is announced we see slower and slower take up of bookings from Victorian consumers as confidence and patience evaporates. Couple that with the Victorian Premier and Prime Minister announcing that lockdowns will be part of Australian life for the next three months, is it little wonder why booking a holiday is not front of mind for the average Victorian in 2021.
Current modelling sees Victoria’s 70% vaccination rate being hit in late October and until then people will not book holidays, go on tours and make big holiday decisions.
It is why Adventure Tourism Victoria is calling for the immediate reintroduction of JobKeeper and automatic business assistance grants for tourism and hospitality until all Australian governments have decided lockdowns are no longer required.
Our part of the industry has been decimated and we have seen that amplified since JobKeeper finished in March 2021.
In 2019, international youth tourism accounted for 27% of international visitor arrivals yet contributed 45% of all international spend. International youth tourism is worth over $10 billion to the Australian economy and the labour it provides through the Working Holiday Visa is needed now more than ever as multiple industries face critical labour shortages. Without dedicated business support and a wage subsidy what will be one of the fastest markets (international youth tourism) to rebound won’t have the infrastructure to support it.
How many times does Victoria need to go in and out of lockdown as we crawl towards 70%-80% without a wage subsidy?
To reach the 70%-80% threshold, Australia needs an ambitious vaccination strategy. We need to incentivise those that have the vaccine with greater access to public spaces and venues, and we need to disincentivise those who have had the opportunity to take up the vaccine but have chosen not to.
We need imagination, creativity and, most importantly, marketing of what these vaccines will allow us to return to and where the country is headed once the targets are hit.
We’re now at the point where the Victorian visitor economy has been nailed shut and, just like last year, we need our employees to stay connected with their places of work. And the businesses that have made it through to now need the urgent help to get to the finish line.