By Brett Jardine, Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators
AS THE leisure travel sector continues with a long and slow climb out of COVID, there are challenges from two fronts that are consistent in dialogue across the sector.
From one direction there is a lack of affordable air-capacity and on the other side labour shortages have escalated to become a challenge for all business owners.
The bulk of Australia’s outbound leisure travellers rely on affordable air tickets that allow them to maximise their enjoyment once at their chosen destination. The flow on effect of limited capacity and significantly higher airfares, is that the rapid return to revenue recognition and profitability is stifled. This is also impacting the economic recovery of our favourite destinations and their communities, that are heavily reliant on Australian visitation.
The imminent return of Asian carriers to Australian hubs will result in significantly increased capacity and should see a shift in the mind-set of consumers keen to get away.
CATO members across the board are dealing with unprecedented demand and strong enquiry for 2023 and 2024. This is certainly providing a much-needed confidence boost, but we are now in an unusual position where the historically strong desire to work in travel has disappeared.
Having been involved in this great industry for more than three decades, its unimaginable to think we could ever be in this position where we seek to tackle the reluctance for individuals to return, or newcomers to consider, a career in travel. Collectively, we need to reposition the opportunities and excitement that working in our industry brings, and showcase how we have adapted to the needs of future employees in this post pandemic world.
There are some good days ahead and for those resilient individuals that are devoted to the joy and enrichment that travel delivers, it will take time, but we will get there.