If there is any sort of silver lining to the pandemic, surely it’s this: That it has forced many of us to reassess how we spend our time and money in order to have the greatest positive impact upon our lives.
That was the message coming loud and clear at Tourism Australia’s ‘Australia On Tour’ media event in Vancouver on Tuesday 12APR.
The latest research from the destination, which reopened its doors to travellers some six weeks ago, certainly places the spotlight on the many potential ‘silver linings’ on the travel and tourism industry horizon.
“The last couple of years, while they’ve definitely been challenging for the tourism industry in Australia – and everywhere – we’ve not been resting,” enthused Chris Allison, regional director (acting) for North America at Tourism Australia.
“There’s been a huge amount of product development across all categories of tourism. Despite the challenges we’ve faced, we’ve seen a significant pipeline of new product.”
Indeed, in spite of pandemic restrictions, the destination now boasts a whole plethora of new luxury lodges, bush-walking experiences, nature and wildlife attractions, restaurants, festivals and museums. Some 12,000 new hotel rooms have been added to the country’s accommodation offering during the pandemic.
The aviation industry is responding to this increase in demand too.
“From an international perspective, by June we’re going to see 58% of all international aviation capacity from our global market returning to Australia,” said Allison. “By the end of the year we expect 70 to 80% of all our aviation capacity to be back to pre-Covid levels.
“From a domestic perspective, in April this year we’re seeing more than 100% of previous aviation capacity restored. That’s really important because over the last couple of years Australians have been spending a lot more time exploring their own backyard – and that’s allowed a number of new domestic air services to open up to parts of the country that weren’t previously connected. That means that for international guests returning to Australia – there’s a lot more access to regional areas than there ever was before.”
And when it comes to traffic from Canada, Air Canada has been quick to react to the surge in demand for vacations Down Under.
“Air Canada has been offering three services a week from Canada,” explained Allison, “But in May it’s increasing to daily services, and in peak season, starting on June 6, it’s increasing to 10 services a week. So that’s double-daily in some circumstances. That’s really predicated by the demand that Air Canada is seeing out of this market. It’s also reinstating the Vancouver to Brisbane service from July – that will be operating four days a week.”
Interest in travelling to Australia is clearly on the rise. Some of that could be due to the Canadian consumer’s perception that Australia is a “safe and secure” place to visit, according to Tourism Australia’s research. Part of it could be that wellness and sustainability – two of Australia’s fastest-growing tourism categories – are in hot demand with Canadian travellers. But it’s most likely due to a major shift in traveller perceptions due to the pandemic.
“One of the key trends that we’re seeing at the moment are that people really reassessing how they spend their time, money and resources to make the most impact across all aspects of their lives,” added Allison.
“People have been staying local to experience their own backyards, but now they’re really ready to go off on that big adventure. They want to make the most of their time and they want to do something big. They are free to travel again and they’re reassessing their vacation choices and taking that bucket list trip.”
That sounds like a pretty good silver lining for the entire travel industry, if you ask me…