Interview with David Koch and Natalie Barr, Sunrise

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Travel bubble with Singapore, Tourism and aviation support package.
15 March 2021

David Koch: Our Tourism Minister Dan Tehan joins us now. Minister, there have been a few dates thrown around for our borders to reopen. Is July achievable?

Tehan: Look, it will depend on the rollout of the vaccine, both here in Australia and globally, all the medical advice that we get as a result of that vaccine rollout, but we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can when it comes to planning. We’ve obviously attempted to open up a bubble with New Zealand. At the moment, that’s a one-way bubble. We’re hoping that New Zealand will allow Australians in without quarantining in the coming months and Singapore have expressed an interest, when I put it to them. If we could get that bubble expanded between New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, or one just operating with Singapore itself, that would be another step in the right direction to starting to open up our borders.

Natalie Barr: Okay. So, there’d be no quarantining and it would be compulsory to have that vaccine? That’s how it would work, would it?

Tehan: Well, obviously we have to take the medical advice but the ideal situation would be that you have proof of vaccination and that would mean that you wouldn’t have to do the quarantining. Now, Singapore, already, you have to do a test upon arrival, and once that test is negative, then you’re free to move around the country so, they’ve already got some steps in place. This would be something that we’ll have as part of those discussions, but that would be the ideal scenario.

Koch: Yeah, which is great for our tourist industry, which you announced a package last week ahead of JobKeeper coming off. Now, the hospitality industry is saying, hey, can we have a similar package for us. Have you, are you considering that?

Tehan: Well, obviously, what we wanted to achieve through our tourism package was to get Australians moving again, to get them travelling again to the wonderful destinations we’ve got right across this country and what we’re hoping is once they get there, what they’ve saved on an airfare – and there are discount airfares already out there – and I say to all Australian’s, book an airfare now. Our package starts in April but there are discount airfares there now. Get out there and travel. And, what you’re saving on your airfares at the moment, go to a pub and spend, go to one of our wonderful tourist attractions and spend, and that’s the best way we can help support the 660,000 jobs in our tourism industry. We’ve already seen demand increase with regards to interest and bookings when it comes to flights. Obviously, more discount flights come on board at the beginning of April, so if I could just say to all Australian’s, have the confidence to travel, make sure that you turn your intent to travel into actually doing so, and that’s the best way we can support our travel industry and our tourism industry more broadly.

Barr: And, welcomed by a lot of those regional areas. Sydney, Melbourne – hotel occupancy rates under 35 per cent. They’re screaming out for help.

Tehan: Yeah, so we had discussions with the airlines before we announced this package and, at the moment, if you go online, you can see there are ticket prices as low as $60 to get between Melbourne and Sydney. So, for anyone who’s thinking of going to either Melbourne or Sydney, grab some of those cheap, available flights. We’ll keep working with the airlines on this package as it continues to rollout and Tourism Australia, obviously, launched their very successful Holiday Here campaign with a focus on getting people back to our capital cities the week before last. So we want to do everything we can to drive that demand into our capital cities, into our regions. There’s just so many wonderful places to go and visit in our nation. So, please, to all Australians, get out there and do it.

Barr: Okay.

Koch: Minister, appreciate your time. Take care.

Tehan: Thanks a lot.

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