Interview with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft, 3AW Breakfast

  • Transcript
Subjects: Reopening of Australia's border to international tourists.
21 February 2022

Ross Stevenson: Tourism and Trade Minister Dan Tehan, Minister, good morning to you.

Dan Tehan: Ross, how are you?

Ross Stevenson: Very well, thank you. Tell us – so fling wide the gates. The borders are open for the double vaccinated. Where are they coming from?

Dan Tehan: They're coming from North America, they're coming from Europe, they're coming from Asia and they can come from everywhere as of today, which is just wonderful news for the 660,000 employed in our tourism industry. This is the day, I think, we've all been waiting for – two years. It's been a tough two years. But we're fully reopen to the rest of the world, and it's just wonderful. I'm at Sydney Airport. The excitement here, they've got a DJ, there's some surf lifesavers, there's Tourism Australia officials in ‘Welcome Back’ T- shirts. There's just a great party atmosphere here at 6.15 in the morning.

Russel Howcroft: So, Minister, so clearly, we're not going to be at 2019 numbers today of incoming tourists. How long do you reckon until we're going to be back to where we once were?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, it'll depend. We've got to build that confidence in getting people travelling again. We're already seeing it. We've got – seeing very, very strong bookings. I was just talking to a representative from one of the major airlines. He said it's been extraordinary, the demand they're getting. So hard to call it. But I think we're going to see a really, strong rebound this year.

I was in India 10 days ago signing the tourism MOU with them. They were our fastest growing market going into the pandemic. The demand there has not waned. So, it will depend. New Zealand, when it reopens, obviously visiting friends, family and relatives is what drives the New Zealand markets, and the friends, family and relatives haven't gone away. So that should rebound strongly. China obviously with their Covid zero policy will be tougher, so it will depend on when China fully reopens. But I'm expecting a really, really strong rebound.

Ross Stevenson: Minister, when Larry from Lithuania says he's double vaxxed, how confident are you that he is?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, we look at his certificates to make sure that he is and so we're confident that people know how important it is to be vaccinated when they're travelling. And obviously we look at the certificates that they've got. And, you know, we've got – over the last year or so we've been able to make sure that on the whole we can have a very good look to make sure that people are saying that they are vaccinated, that it is authentic.

Now, obviously you can never be 100 per cent foolproof; you do need people doing the right thing. But we're confident that people who want to travel understand how important it is to be vaccinated.

Russel Howcroft: So, Minister, I've read last week that the demand for UK travellers to come to Australia was a bit low. Presumably we're going to spend some money over there to get them to put us on their list.

Dan Tehan: Absolutely, $40 million of TA marketing campaign is already out in the market. The UK is one of the top markets we're targeting, along with North America – the US and Canada. So they are a key market, and we are – some of the reports are that we are starting to see now quite strong demand coming out of the UK. While it was a little bit sluggish, they're starting to see how all our states and territories are starting to combine together with the reopening and have the same rules in place. And because most people that come from the UK want to go two or three states here in Australia, that's giving them more confidence to want to come back. So, I'm very positive that the Poms will want to come here in large, large numbers.

Ross Stevenson: Now, Minister, Russell, of course, given his bent, went straight to advertising, so let me follow on his coat tails: traditionally what has happened with Australian tourism advertising is Victoria writes a cheque for Queensland's beaches to be advertised.
Please tell me that that's still not going to be happening, that some of the advertising taken out federally will actually benefit Victoria.

Dan Tehan: Absolutely, Ross. I look after the Great Ocean Road in my patch, so I'm making sure that the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road feature in all these marketing campaigns. I want people going to Lorne, to Apollo Bay, to Port Campbell, to Warrnambool, visiting all those wonderful locations. Because that's one of the most magnificent coast lines that you'd see anywhere in the world. So, we'll be getting our fair shear, don't worry.

Russel Howcroft: So, Minister, what about the price of a ticket? So presumably they're going to be a little bit more of a premium on a ticket now than there were a few years back?

Dan Tehan: Well, the airlines, I've got to say, are being fairly competitive at the moment. So, it's a tiny bit higher than what it was pre-pandemic. I can see that coming down pretty quickly. So hopefully we'll be able to get those prices that we were getting around the time we went into the pandemic, especially if we can start seeing the routes getting full again with planes.

So obviously the more supply of planes on to the markets I think it's going to be highly competitive again. That might take a little bit of time for them to get the planes on the routes like they were, but once they do I think those prices will come down and people – it will be very affordable for people to travel again.

Ross Stevenson: Good on you, Minister. Tourism and Trade Minister Dan Tehan.



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