We dream about the day we can freely cross borders and toast to new adventures in the sky, but when we daydream about our next adventures, we find we imagine them taking place in world pre-COVID — one that doesn’t smell like hand sanitiser or involves temperature checks at every turn, but things have changed.
In reality, we feel apprehensive at the mere idea of travelling overseas again for the fear of falling sick or bringing illness into another country, and we’re far from alone.
According to the new PayPal-commissioned Travel & Tourism Trends Report, which reveals the impacts of COVID-19 on consumer attitudes towards travel and the Australian tourism industry in general, only 4% of Australians say they would feel comfortable travelling overseas right now.
What’s more, around 5% of respondents to the survey admitted they will never be comfortable leaving Australia again, which says a lot about the ongoing fear of coronavirus on one of Australia’s favourite hobbies: travel.
The exception to the rule lies within the highly anticipated “travel bubble” which is currently being drawn up by Australian and New Zealand officials, plus a collective of tourism officials from the Pacific Islands.
According to the report, one in five (20%) of Australians would be OK with venturing to New Zealand, while 10% of respondents would feel comfortable with a trip to the Pacific Islands.
While somewhat saddening for the short-term future of international travel, the report does make a positive case for domestic travel around Australia. As the data would indicate, Australians are feeling confident in the nation’s response to the virus, so much so, that 65% of people would now feel comfortable travelling within their own state, while 25% are happy to make interstate trips.
And if the response to COVID-19 continues down the path of success, then 70% predict they’ll be willing to travel around all of Australia by the end of 2020, which bodes well for those more rural communities affected by both the bushfire season and the pandemic, that rely hugely on tourism to support their economies.
“The Travel and Tourism sector usually contributes close to $50 billion annually to national GDP. While domestic travel can’t make up for the absence of more than 8 million international visitors, it can provide a much-needed stopgap to help keep the industry afloat until international borders open again,” says PayPal Australia’s head of business marketing, Vanessa Lennon.
It’s true that domestic tourism has taken a huge hit since late 2019, when the catastrophic bushfire season kicked off and continued until late March. Pair this with lockdown measures amid COVID-19, and the effects have been seen and heard in every corner of the country.
At the “height of the pandemic” in May, the Travel & Tourism Trends Report found that 83% of travel and tourism-related business had seen an average monthly revenue decline of 61%. This figure appears hand-in-hand with the cancellation rates from Australian travellers — apparently, 63% of people were forced to change or cancel their plans for holiday travel.
The good news is, of course, that domestic tourism is now becoming available once more. If you feel comfortable with exploring new towns and cities and are feeling 100% well, then a local trip could be just what you need to feel refreshed while simultaneously supporting the community.