The world still has 20pc of borders closed from COVID fears

ONE OUT OF FIVE destinations continue to have their borders completely closed as new surges of COVID-19 impact the restart of international tourism, according to the United Nations World Toruism Organization (UNWTO).

The latest research shows that still 98 percent of all destinations have some kind of travel restrictions in place.

According to the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, 46 destinations (21% of all destinations worldwide) currently have their borders completely closed to tourists.

Of these, 26 destinations have had their borders completely closed since at least the end of April 2020. A further 55 (25% of all global destinations) continue to have their borders partially closed to international tourism, and 112 destinations (52% of all destinations) require international tourists to present a PCR or antigen COVID test upon arrival. 

The research also shows how destinations are opening up to vaccinated international tourists: 85 destinations (39% of all destinations worldwide) have eased restrictions for fully vaccinated international tourists, while 20 destinations (9% of all destinations worldwide) have made a full COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for entering a destination for tourism purposes.

However, just four destinations have so far lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions completely (Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico).

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “The safe easing or lifting of restrictions on travel are essential for the restart of tourism and the return of the social and economic benefits the sector offers.

“The trend towards destinations taking evidence-based approaches to restrictions reflects the evolving nature of the pandemic will also help restore confidence in travel while helping keep both tourists and tourism workers safe.”  

As in previous editions of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report research, this latest report shows that regional differences with regards to travel restrictions remain. Asia and the Pacific remains the region with the most restrictions in place, with 65 percent of all destinations completely closed.

In comparison, Europe is the most open global region to international tourists (7% of borders completely closed), followed by Africa (9%), the Americas (10%) and the Middle East (15%).

Mr Pololikashvili  said the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic further emphasised the importance of national authorities ensuring that immigration procedures and requirements were provided in a timely, reliable and consistent manner across all information systems and platforms. He said this would help to maintain confidence and trust and “to further facilitate international mobility”.

www.unwto.org

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SafeStay knows the ABCs of Airbnbs

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

OVER THE LAST 10 years, short term accommodation in hotels has been largely replaced with Airbnb. But it carries risks for owner-occupiers and landlords.

There have some short-stay accommodation incidents including fraud, injury and even fatalities. Enter SafeStay, a startup co-founded by Kiel Glass and Damian Morgan.

SafeStay is a safety inspection audit company specifically targeted towards short-term rentals. Glass and Morgan’s company addresses the problem that, across Australia, there has been no minimum standard around safety and security for short term rentals. 

Glass and Morgan put together a framework to specifically improve the level of safety and security so that guests could be sure they would be staying in accommodation that is safe and secure enough for them and their family.

“A key focus of ours is that when you book a short-term rental, that the property is going to be safe and secure for them to stay at and with what’s happened recently with Covid-19, and everyone is conscious about health and safety, we are moving forward to ensure their family and themselves are protected,” Mr Morgan told Talking Business.

SAFETY INSPECTIONS NECESSARY

This would see hosts or landlords booking a safety inspection audit on the SafeStay website.

“We would then send the host a parameter of things we look for during that inspection where they can go and make sure it is in the right form and then we physically go out and inspect the property,” Mr Glass said.

“We do a safety audit inspection check which covers off safety, security and cleanliness. That’s from things such as smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, trip hazards, broken glass, cords through window cables and general security relevant in other sectors.”

Mr Glass said this work was extensive as there were about 140,000 short term accommodation sites around Australia, driven by Airbnb, so Glass and Morgan were setting their goals quite high.

“We are trying to work with governing bodies around the country on a state and federal level to try and get these minimum standards approved across the industry,” Mr Glass said.

The standards are exactly the same as those used in long-term accommodation.

SAFETY AND PROFITABILITY

Mr Glass said he believed the SafeStay service would actually increase the value of the property.

“We’ve got surveys and studies to suggest that if you do have a safety audit inspection that is focused around safety, security and cleanliness, people will pay more for that,” he said.

“That’s a win-win for both aspects of guests and hosts alike. So if you can position yourself as being a leader and wanting to improve the overall standards, you will be rewarded by being to ask for more money, but also, less vacancy.

“This is a true conversation that’s going to be coming out of the other side of this pandemic and it’s going to be a main focus, so why not get yourself ahead of the rest and have a unique selling proposition to really make sure you stand out from the crowd?”

Mr Glass said this type of safety regime would become critical once Australia moved beyond the pandemic with its high vaccination rates.

“Once everybody gets out of their isolation and these restrictions drop on a state level, everybody is going to be itching to get out,” Mr Glass said.

“That’s going to be the new holiday routine of Australians. It’s to stay local, stay domestic and that will be the annual getaway for every family.”

This will see short term accommodation becoming the new normal. It will need safety, security and cleanliness audits. 

www.leongettler.com

 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

https://play.acast.com/s/talkingbusiness/talking-business41-interview-with-kiel-glass-and-damian-morg

Australia's tourism challenge made clearer by Reimagining the Visitor Economy report

TODAY'S release of the Reimagining the Visitor Economy expert panel report provides a thorough outline of the challenges and opportunities ahead for Australia’s tourism industry, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC).

ATEC managing director Peter Shelley welcomed the report and congratulated the expert panel, led by chair Martin Ferguson AM, as a "comprehensive review encapsulating Australian tourism’s position as it emerges from the COVID pandemic and enters a new world of international travel". 

“We are pleased to see the report has comprehensively covered off on the major issues affecting our industry as well as some of the challenges the industry was already facing before the pandemic,” Mr Shelley said. 

“Issues such as the significant deficit in our workforce, which will be critical to the success of tourism’s recovery, have been highlighted as a major focus for government’s nationally and the need to build the pathway to success from marketing to air capacity, visas, renewed product offering and building business capability.”

Mr Shelley said ATEC was strongly supportive of the recommendation to place Australia's indigenous heritage at the centre of the tourism industry. 

“Now is an important time for our industry and governments, working collaboratively, to look at opportunities to build the tourism industry of the future and many of the recommendations outlined in the report have highlighted ways we can do this from greater digital capacity, a stronger focus on value over volume, better data collection and promoting our nature and cultural offerings.

“It is refreshing to see recommendations to have the industry directly involved in helping to drive outcomes and ATEC is looking forward to working through the strategy both in the consultation stage and as a future contributor to industry collaboration processes.

“The crucial link between driving demand, distribution and conversion will be essential in ensuring the success of the strategy and our international tourism restart."

www.tourismdrivesgrowth.com.au

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Over 100k downloads of Brisbane App in first six weeks

MORE THAN 100,000 people have downloaded the experiential Brisbane App, developed and introduced by the Brisbane City Council less than six weeks ago.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the Brisbane App provided a convenient way to navigate and experience the very best of Brisbane with more than 1650 events currently listed, nearly 8000 places such as restaurants, parks, pools and hotels, and more than 190 activity guides. 

“Brisbane is known for its great lifestyle, and the Brisbane App is proving to be the must-have app to find up-to-date what’s on event listings, guides for inspiration and interactive maps that take the guesswork out of planning,” Cr Schrinner said. 

“What we’ve found is residents are clearly hungry for things to see and do, with users spending an average of 22 minutes exploring the Brisbane App since the launch. 

“The guides are also proving popular for inspiration on where to eat, play, shop or visit, with the most popular guides including quirky things to do in Brisbane, budget-friendly activities to do with kids and fun date night ideas,” Cr Schrinner said.

“One of the best features of the Brisbane App is that it makes it so easy for residents to discover local businesses that are highly rated by others and our App gives users the ability to share their favourite haunts by writing recommendations and sharing ‘likes’ with friends and family.  

“Not only that, but we’re seeing new businesses being added all the time with more than 1500 businesses, from cafes, bars, shops, hotels, and venues, listed on the Brisbane App for residents to discover.

“The Brisbane App has something for everyone, no matter their age or interests. 

“As the most small-business friendly city in Australia, the Brisbane App is a great way to encourage everyone who lives, visits or works in Brisbane to get out and support local businesses – this is incredibly important as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Cr Schrinner said ensuring businesses not only survive, but thrive, was key to Brisbane’s economic recovery.  

“We are investing more than $58 million in small business and economic recovery initiatives this financial year and the Brisbane App is an important tool to supporting our city’s small businesses,” he said.   

“Local businesses, particularly in the accommodation, events, tourism and hospitality industries need our support and we’re proud to have delivered a smartphone app that puts local business in the spotlight.” 

Data from the first six weeks of operation shows the most popular guides have been:

  • Quirky things to do in Brisbane (4359 views)
  • Budget-friendly activities to do with kids (3345 views)  
  • Unique date night ideas (2572 views) 
  • Brisbane’s best kept secret (2310 views)
  • Family friendly adventures (2117 views)
  • Brisbane’s hidden gems (2043 views)
  • Where to see live music in Brisbane (1973 views)
  • How to spend the perfect day in Brisbane (1831 views)
  • Eat, drink and explore Brisbane (1726 views)
  • Fun outdoor activities (1664 views).

The Brisbane app is available to download via the Apple Store and Google Play. 

https://brisbaneapp.com.au

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Flight Centre Travel Group promises a 'stellar' speaker line-up for Illuminate business travel event

FLIGHT CENTRE Travel Group (FCTG) has opened registrations for Illuminate, its corporate travel event aimed at rejuvenating the industry, taking place online on October 21.

FCTG's business travel division has unveiled an A-list line-up of speakers, including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin Australia CEO and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka, who will share their insights for a post-pandemic world of corporate travel.

Hosted by FCTG’s corporate brands FCM, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel and Stage and Screen, Illuminate is an annual event for business leaders, travel bookers and travel decision-makers that features keynote presentations delivered by some of Australia’s top business leaders and influencers. 

The event provides crucial insights and advice for businesses on travel, including sustainable travel and future trends, as well as evolving travel programs to prepare for a post-pandemic world. The half-day event will offer opportunities for networking, learning, and strategizing among attendees.

The theme for this year’s Illuminate is ‘Time to Fly’ and will light the way forward for the business travel industry, exploring how companies can navigate travel once domestic and international borders are lifted. 

Since its inception in 2018, Illuminate has grown in popularity, doubling attendance year-on-year.

In 2021, the event returns in a virtual format, livestreamed via OnAir by Events Air, and is expected to attract hundreds of guests from the travel industry, big business, and the SME sector.

It is the first time the event has moved to totally virtual and will offer an immersive and interactive experience for attendees who will be able to take part in Illuminate as if they were there.

BIG NAMES, BIGGER IDEAS

Keynote speakers Alan Joyce and Jayne Hrdlicka will join Westpac chief economist Bill Evans, human behaviourist and co-founder of The Behaviour Report, Dan Gregory, and gold medallist swimmer and Tokyo 2021 open ceremony flagbearer for Australia, Cate Campbell OAM, with a collective focus on business travel endurance and recovery strategies, while combatting industry issues post-pandemic.

“I look forward to speaking to the business community about the economic implications of the pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, as well as what the country can expect as we open up," Westpac's Bill Evens said. "While it has been a tough year, climbing vaccination rates are helping forge a path out of lockdowns and into the country’s economic recovery.

“Opening domestic and international borders will be critical to driving the recovery of many businesses across Australia. At Illuminate, I will explore what the road to Australia’s economic recovery, the ongoing challenges both global and domestic, including lessons businesses can learn from COVID and how they can become more resilient as we move forward,” Mr Evans said.

FCTG Australia managing director, James Kavanagh said, “We’re delighted to bring Illuminate back after a one-year hiatus. It continues to be a truly stand-out event for the corporate travel industry across the country.

"Our sterling line-up of top industry leaders and inspiring speakers will share key insights for a return to travel, including exploring the path forward for businesses, the industry post-pandemic, and the path to freedom we can all look forward to.

“I encourage all businesses that travel to attend the event to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools needed to help them to return to travel safely and effectively. Innovation is at the very heart of what we provide for clients and customers and the virtual event will also showcase that.”

www.illuminatefctg.com.au

 

Illuminate 2021 agenda

 

  • 9am to 9:30am (AEDT): Partner Showcase.
  • 9:30am to 9:50am (AEDT): Flying High in a Post-Pandemic World - Qantas CEO Alan Joyce takes us on a journey of what to expect domestically and internationally for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.
  • 10am to 10:15am (AEDT): No more talking heads. Why face to face is critical for businesses and brands - CEO of the Impossible Institute and a specialist in human behaviour is Illuminate guest speaker Dan Gregory.
  • 10:15am to 10:25am (AEDT): Swimming towards 2032 - FCM's general manager Melissa Elf and swimming gold medallist Cate Campbell discuss navigating change and what it takes to succeed in the face of a pandemic and beyond.
  • 10:30am to 10:45am (AEDT): In Panel: Putting Responsible Travel into practice - Responsible Travel – what is it and how is it influencing travel programs and business strategy?
  • 10:45am to 10:50am (AEDT): The future has arrived… in the USA - If the travel environment in the USA is anything to go by, we better prepare for a speedy return to elevated business activity.
  • 10:50am to 11:10am (AEDT): Partner Showcase.
  • 10:55am to 11am (AEDT): It’s time to hit the reset button for the hotel industry - FCM Consulting general manager, Felicity Burke, along with Quest's Anthea Dimitrakopoulos talk hotel trends – rates, occupancy levels, location, demand, and forward predictions.
  • 11:15am to 11:30am (AEDT): Bill Evans puts the future of finance into perspective - Business is one thing. But economic markets are another. Get up to speed on what the fiscal future looks like with Bill Evans, renowned Australian economist.
  • 11:40am to 12pm (AEDT): Virgin poised and ready for post-pandemic success - Virgin Australia Group CEO and former chief executive at Jetstar and A2 Milk, Jayne Hrdlicka will talk to Virgin Australia’s business transformation and direction for the future.
  • 12pm to 12:20pm (AEDT): The Covid Classroom - Grab your fins and mask as Flight Centre CEO Skroo Turner takes a deep dive into the important lessons of 2020 and how pivoting is here to stay for the travel industry.
  • 12:30pm to 13:30pm (AEDT): Partner Showcase.
  • 13:30pm (AEDT): Close.

Illuminate 2021 will be livestreamed via OnAir by Events Air from 09am to 13pm (AEDT) on Thursday, October 21, 2021.

 

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Additional travel industry support welcomed but dialogue on Round 3 ongoing

THE Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has thanked the Federal Government and Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Dan Tehan, for the additional industry support for travel agents and tour arrangement service providers with multiple shopfronts.

The additional funding is on top of support provided to travel agents and businesses through the $258 million Consumer Travel Program, JobKeeper and business support grants.
 
AFTA chair Tom Manwaring said until international travel normalises, Australia’s travel agents and businesses need ongoing support including Round 3 of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Grant and beyond "to allow us to sustain our businesses and keep the necessary expertise within the sector to allow us to continue to support travelling Australians". 
 
"Australia’s travel sector has been in hard lockdown for 600 days already and until international travel normalises in 2022, an ongoing financial lifeline is now critical for the 30,000 Australians working in travel and 3000 travel agencies and businesses who employ them," Mr Manwaring said.
 
"A third of the travel sector -- about 15,000 jobs -- has already been wiped out."

Mr Manwaring said there were a number of AFTA members who operate through multiple shopfronts under a single ABN who have not been eligible for support on a store-by-store basis until now "so this additional support is very welcome for those businesses".
 
“As so many Australians have discovered during COVID, travel agents are essential and even more important given the challenges of travelling internationally given the morass of differing requirements," Mr Manwaring said. "Without a travel agent, you really are on your own.
 
“Even when international travel resumes, there will be an economic hangover for our sector of several months, well into 2022 before revenue streams return let alone return at a sustainable level.
 
“AFTA continues to make the case for ongoing support including through the extension of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support grant program into Round 3 and beyond to the Federal Government."
 
AFTA's key facts about the Australian travel industry:

  • Prior to COVID, the industry had experienced year on year growth of 11% and maintained growth of 7.25% over the past five years.
  • In 2018-19, Australians spent over $46 billion on international travel, representing the largest import sector of the Australian economy.
  • 70% of this international travel was booked through Australian travel agents.
  • Each year travel agents on average collect taxes worth $1 billion and contribute $28 billion nationally to the economy.

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Tourism industry leader ATEC collaborates with Beyond Blue to support business owners' wellbeing

IN THE WAKE OF its hugely successful Road to Recovery tutorial webinar program, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is gearing up to launch a new series, Restart Ready commencing with a focus on the wellbeing of tourism business owners across the country.

The Restart Ready program will introduce tourism businesses to a recently launched program, NewAccess for Small Business Owners, a free and confidential mental health coaching program developed by Beyond Blue that provides support to small business owners who are experiencing challenges.  

“While many millions of people across the country have been in cycles of lockdowns over the past 18 months, the tourism industry has been doing it extra tough, with lockdowns forcing businesses to start and stop several times – a process which is enormously exhausting both mentally and financially,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“While much of ATEC’s work has been focused on supporting the ‘business’ aspect of member businesses, we know that what sits below these businesses names is passionate, dedicated people suffering the stress of keeping their business afloat during these very difficult times.

"In light of our current environment and the pressures being faced by so many in the industry, ATEC is opening registrations to all the tourism industry to provide much needed support for businesses doing it tough as a result of the pandemic.”

The series of three tutorials will be held over consecutive weeks beginning on August 12, with the first session focused on small business owners and mental health, current pressures and introducing the NewAccess for Small Business Owners Program. 

Subsequent sessions will feature Beyond Blue’s Mel Novak and Blue Voices speaker Tim Hoopmann discussing health and wellbeing for small business owners in the tourism industry followed by a Q&A session in week three.

Beyond Blue chief community officer Patrice O’Brien encouraged business owners to participate in the Restart Ready tutorials.

“Business owners who are doing it really tough during the pandemic can participate in the Restart Ready tutorials and gain practical advice and information on the importance of wellbeing,” Ms O’Brien said.

“The tutorials will also introduce the benefits of mental health coaching available through a program called NewAccess for Small Business Owners. The program is delivered via telehealth by trained mental health coaches who have a background in small business and is free for participants.”

Click here to register for this week's Restart Ready tutorial with Beyond Blue’s Mel Novak.

www.atec.net.au

 

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