Australia’s tourism, hospitality and events industries have been devastated by COVID-19, but they are planning a road to recovery, says Dr Joanne Pyke, director of VU’s School for the Visitor Economy.
Key attractions, accommodation, transport, restaurants, sports venues, event companies and theatres across the country are estimated to be losing around $9 billion a month, according to the Tourism and Transport Forum, due to restrictions on travel and social distancing requirements.
But industry focus groups convened by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), indicate the sector is already preparing to ‘pivot, plan and position’ along a road to recovery.
"Remarkable examples are emerging of businesses pivoting – or transforming their traditional business model to address current conditions – such as taxi companies turning from passenger transport to courier services that deliver wine or pets."
The industry is also busy planning - completing IT systems upgrades and other ‘housework,’ as well as anticipating future trends, she said.
While international travel remains closed, domestic tourism will grow with the greatest demand in areas such as nature-based experiences, health and wellness experiences and camping holidays, Dr Pyke said.
When international visitors return, industry planners anticipate, and are targeting, a more diverse spread of markets, with a reduction in group travel from China, she said.
The industry is also positioning itself by sending the right messages at the right time to future visitors of regions, events and attractions, she said.
"The tourism industry continues to communicate with its customers, past visitors, and future potential markets about its destinations and attractions. This can include providing virtual content as a replacement to the real thing so it can continue its relationships with the public."
Dr Pyke said in the same way that social isolation measures are expected to be lifted gradually, the focus of tourism marketing will be firmly on domestic tourism, which remains the backbone of the visitor economy.
"The industry is in shock but there are some silver linings that have surfaced during the crisis. It is forming new collaborations, and there’s a broad appreciation of tourism and the wider visitor economy as a generator of jobs, prosperity, and the experiences that make our lives joyful."
The School for the Visitor Economy
VU's School for the Visitor Economy is a cross-university school providing the hospitality and tourism industries with qualified professionals. It delivers industry-based programs across all qualification levels, from pre-vocational certificates to PhDs.
It is currently delivering courses remotely, and is working closely with industry to support business continuity, recovery, and long-term resilience-building.