Lingering fears still impact travel industry

Travelling was once an exciting opportunity but now has an element of fear, and these concerns in the post-covid world are continuing to threaten the tourism industry. 

Traveling close to home can keep the tourism industry afloat while people gain more confidence to holiday further afield. Photo: Jena Carr 

During the covid pandemic, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders restricted the possibility of travel. 

In the latest release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on overseas arrivals and departures within Australia, January 2022 results show a 92.6 per cent decrease in short-term visitor trips from January 2019. 

General manager of Great Ocean Road Regional Travel, Liz Price, said people fear getting stuck in another country. 

“Part of the challenge to people’s confidence has been ‘I don’t wanna travel and be caught interstate or be caught away from home and unable to get home and get back to my life’,” she said. 

With restrictions starting to relax, airlines are opening up to international and domestic visitors again. 

“There’s parts of the region that really did rely heavily on international visitation but are very keen to have the domestic visitors back. So we really welcome back into the region and encourage people to explore,” Ms Price said.  

As the most visited part of the Victorian region outside Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is slowly recovering from a lack of travellers. 

“We normally get about 900,000 international day trippers and about 275,000 international overnight visitors. So of course, with the borders having been closed, that market has gone completely. We’re only slowly starting to see the return from interstate visitors,” Ms Price said.  

Haley Woods, the founder of Girls LOVE Travel, is a nomadic traveller from America. The travel-based Facebook group is open for girls of any age to discuss plans or concerns regarding trips they are planning.  

Ms Woods said one of the biggest concerns people were experiencing was the inability to escape covid in a confined space as social distancing is not always possible.  

“I think a big fear is being on the plane itself and what’s going on with regards to covid and the mask mandates,” she said. 

With all the added measures of travelling in the post-covid world, Ms Woods longs for the days of being able to travel on short notice. 

“There’s so many things to think about now, and I can’t just get on a plane and go gallivant. I’m really hoping that one day we can go back to some more of the spontaneity of travel,” she said. 

According to the Australian Government Department of Health, plane passengers must be able to produce their proof of vaccination. They must also test negative for Covid-19 no more than 24 hours before the flight’s departure time. 

With these new measures in place, travellers are encouraged to allow extra time within their travel plans. 

“I do believe that this is the time that people should try and make their plans with the potential that something could (have to) adjust,” Ms Woods said.  

To help remove some travel-related fears, Visit Victoria has created a new campaign to bring visitors back to the region. The ‘Stay close, go further’ campaign aims to entice Victorians to explore new parts of the state.

The Great Ocean Road is the latest destination to be focused on by the campaign, something Ms Price finds exciting. 

“There’s so many amazing places, and I think that’s our job to do now is make sure people … get to see the amazing other things that are there that can make it an absolutely memorable, revitalising trip,” she said. 

For now, domestic visits are a way for people to get back into travelling and build up the confidence to explore further afield. 

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