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How far off is global travel

Helloworld boss Andrew Burnes says international travel is at least nine to 12 months away from returning and says that New Zealand and the South Pacific could likely be the first destinations reopened to us.

“Destinations such as New Zealand and possibly some South Pacific countries could be among the first to open to Australian visitors and vice-versa,” he wrote in a letter to Helloworld agents.

“Beyond that, and in the absence of a widely distributed vaccine (and even if there is a vaccine, it will take a long time for it to be widely distributed), the rest of the world will slowly open up to travel, with corporate travel recovering initially followed by leisure travel not too far behind it.

“But re-emergence of international travel is nine to 12 months away from today, so in the meantime it’s going to require a tremendous amount of discipline for travel businesses to basically go into hibernation for the next six months or so.”

According to The Australian, Mr Burnes also believes the cruising sector would return to popularity once it is clear health and safety measures are beyond reproach, and when near ICU facilities were installed on all vessels, which would most likely be mid next year.

“Cruise has proven to be one of the most popular sectors of the leisure travel industry in the world. The product is popular, well priced and delivers an all-inclusive break that people enjoy,” he wrote.

“Cruise companies are going to have to have significantly increased cleaning and disinfecting measures, commit to much better on-board health including immediate isolation capabilities, respirators and other near ICU facilities and to stringent health checks for all embarking and disembarking passengers and crew.”

He also discussed the coronavirus recovery process and how travel industry wouldn’t start opening up for international business until next year.

“The key is to be there to throw the doors wide open again when the world begins to get moving,” he wrote.

“That will most likely not happen until 2021 and it will not happen with any degree of consistency either.”

He suggested that by 2021 the government will allow travel to a limited number of overseas destinations, on a bilateral basis, to which we could travel and return without the need for quarantine. Australians might be permitted to visit Canada at some point, with no post-return quarantine, but the US would remain a no-go for quite some time.

“Or Australians might be permitted to visit the US and Chile but not be able to travel to the US from Chile. The permutations are endless.”

He said travel agents will be a traveller’s biggest asset, as it will be difficult for lay planners to navigate the post-pandemic complexities of international travel.

“Getting to the other side of this is everyone’s greatest challenge. It’s a challenge for airlines, agents, wholesalers, cruise companies, hotels, resorts, tour operators – everyone. And it will come at a cost, both financial and personal,” he wrote.

Mr Burnes predicted that stage three lockdowns would be eased “slowly” within the next five to six weeks, after which, intrastate could resume.

“Later this year, maybe in July or August, some domestic intrastate travel will begin on a state by state basis. And it will be different for different states. Then at some point, hopefully by September (October at the latest), cross-border travel will be permitted, and domestic flights will start to resume, with frequencies increasing as time goes by on condition that infection rates remain, at the very least, tightly controlled and manageable with our given health resources.”

He added that once the world is back on its feet, there will be an incredible demand for travel.

“There will be an enormous amount of activity to bolster travel demand once things start to open up again,’’ he said.

“In 2019, travel contributed $US9.25trn ($14.5trn) to the global economy and 325 million jobs worldwide. For many countries it is their most significant contributor to GDP and employment, and we can expect to see a lot of marketing funds being directed to driving demand once visitors are able to return to key destinations globally and they will be welcomed with open arms.”

Where is the first place in your state you’ll visit when restrictions are lifted? What about overseas? Will you cruise again?

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