By Steve Jones
WHY is travel and tourism so under-appreciated? It’s a question I’m sure many of us have frequently pondered over the years. But none more so than in 2020.
And it’s not just in Australia where the industry is overlooked. Just as AFTA’s endeavours to get meaningful sector support have fallen on sympathetic, but ultimately deaf ears, so it is in the UK.
For Covid reasons, Britain has once again been my home for the past few months and regardless of the location, the story is depressingly familiar. An industry that has barely been able to trade for months, that has pleaded for help with increasing desperation, is met with a collective shrug of the shoulders.
The political position is that provision has been made for businesses across the board, which aid travel firms as much as everyone else. And it’s true the impact of Covid should not be categorised or seen as a competition in misery. Everyone has had it tough this year.
That said, the travel trade has been decimated in a way few others have.
It is an inescapable fact that while other industries have slowly recovered as restrictions have eased, travel has remained in lockdown. There has been nothing to sell, no revenue to generate.
The appetite to explore UK-style corridors has been negligible in Australia, even if Scott Morrison tentatively flagged the issue in mid-October. As for the New Zealand bubble, from a travel industry perspective it is worthless in its current form.
With this in mind, why have the Governments of Australia and UK blanked the industry and refused to offer additional assistance? Do they regard it as dispensable, an industry selling a discretionary, flippant product that we can all do without?
All industries have their stories of hardship, yet the business conditions for travel have been unique. Any signs of a short-term improvement are absent. Regrettably, so is the political will to help.