Interview with Sarah Cumming, ABC Gold Coast

  • Transcript
Subjects: Tourism and aviation support package, Border closures
12 March 2021

Matt Webber: The Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan on the Gold Coast again today, promoting those half-price flights that were announced yesterday. We're expecting a press conference later on this morning. But, Mr Tehan did speak with ABC Gold Coast Sarah Cumming a little earlier this morning.

[Excerpt]

Dan Tehan: What this is all about is making sure we get people travelling again, and if we can get tourists on the ground that means that we can support our tourism industry and we've already seen a big spike in people searching for discounted flights, and especially to the Gold Coast. So, already, we're seeing this package have exactly the type of reaction that we want from tourists. They're looking to book cheap flights to come to the Gold Coast, which is wonderful, and with the spare cash that they've got from the discount flights our appeal to them is – and this is something we'll work with local marketing organisations on –  is to make sure with their spare cash they visit a restaurant, they visit a pub and they go to an attraction and they spend money – and they spend like they would if they were travelling overseas.

Sarah Cumming: The opposition says there are glaring gaps in this support package, though. What are your, what's your position on that?

Tehan: We worked closely with the airlines to make sure that we were providing the discounted tickets to those destinations that really needed it – those destinations which have been impacted by the loss of international tourists. And, as we've made very clear, this is an initial list, and as we pick up demand to these key destinations, we'll look at other destinations. It's very easy to be critical – why doesn't everyone be positive and encourage everyone to take a holiday, get out there, visit our wonderful nation and if we do that, what we're going to do is support the 600,000 jobs right across this nation.

Cumming: What are some of those other destinations you're considering?

Tehan: Look, we'll do that in conjunction with the airlines and we haven't made any decisions on those routes yet, but we will have them under close consideration. We want to make sure that we get people travelling right across this nation. If you look online at the moment, you will see that prices have been discounted heavily between our capital cities. Through what we've announced yesterday we've seen discount prices now to key destinations, especially those destinations which were relying heavily on international tourists. So, we'll keep monitoring and keep working with the airlines. And, one call out to people when you're looking to book these holidays, make sure you look to book through your travel agent because they can not only purchase the airline ticket but also get you accommodation and get you to some of the wonderful attractions across this nation.

Cumming: We spoke to a number of travel agents yesterday, and tour operators who are very nervous about the end of JobKeeper in a few weeks. Will you be able to provide extra targeted support for these people?

Tehan: Well, we announced yesterday – and we'll be sitting down with the travel agents' sector over the coming days to finalise the final details of the package – but another $128 million support package for our travel agents. We want to make sure that they can still provide those key services, especially holding on to refunds or changing refunds that people have used to book through them. There is still, our estimation is, billions of dollars being held by travel agents so there is another direct support package for them. And, what we'll be calling on from all Australians is the money they're saving through their discounted tickets travelling right across their, this nation, is to make sure that they then support all the wonderful attractions and the wonderful experiences that we have right across this nation.

Cumming: What about the border situation? Many travellers are still feeling very nervous about what will happen with borders. You know, if they book and then there's a snap border closure. Are you worried about that?

Tehan: Oh, yes and that is the biggest concern that travellers have at the moment and what I've called on state and territory governments to do is to make sure that border closures are very much a last resort. We want them to use contact tracing, we want them to use their testing regimes, to make sure that's the approach they take now that we've got the vaccine rolling out. And, if they do that, there'll be confidence in people to travel, there'll be confidence in people to return to CBDs to work, there'll be confidence in people to explore right across this nation, and that is exactly what our tourism industry needs. And, if we can get that travelling occurring, if we can get that moving occurring, we know that that's going to support the tourism industry and the 600,000 jobs in the tourism industry.

Cumming: There's been some criticism that this is really just a package for airlines, and it is a substantial amount of money going direct to the airlines.

Tehan: Well, as we've seen one of the key things as we've recovered from the pandemic is that people have travelled, and they've travelled intrastate, and they've travelled in their cars and we've seen destinations three to four hours within the CBD really do incredibly well from local domestic tourism. So, the key with this package is incentivising that interstate travel to get people moving across borders again. As everyone has recognised, it's been that fear of leaving a state to travel because of border closures that's really hurt certain destinations. So, what this is all about is getting confidence in people to travel again and we know if we can get that happening, that will support and boost the tourism industry right across the board.

[End of excerpt]

Webber: Dan Tehan there, Federal Tourism Minister speaking to ABC reporter Dan Tehan [sic] Sarah Cumming early this morning.

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