Will travel bounce back?
Australia’s foreign borders have been closed for most of the past 18 months, except for a short-lived travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand. Domestic travel has also been restricted at various times due to ongoing lockdowns and border restrictions.
As a result, the travel industry has been devastated. Travel supports more 600,000 jobs across Australia but the sudden destruction of demand has had a devastating impact on the industry.
Many businesses involved in the travel industry have gone under, with those that have survived forced to go cap in hand to shareholders or the banks to raise additional cash to survive.
With Australia due to start opening up in coming weeks, led by New South Wales, will travel bounce back? And if so, how quickly?
Due to bounce back
I think travel will bounce back quickly, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Australians have been stuck at home, particularly those on the east coast, for months. Nothing would be better to dull the boredom caused by the lockdowns than being once again able to travel and get away from it all.
With a highly vaccinated population, I think demand for travel within Australia will bounce back quickly.
Australians also excess savings due to the inability to spend their spare cash on travel, restaurants and other leisure activities. Combined with pent-up demand, I think this creates a good situation for the travel industry.
While some states such as Western Australia and Queensland may not open their borders until 2022, ultimately their leaders will relent as their citizens see people in other states being able to enjoy travel and other activities.
This should further increase demand for travel within Australia.
As for travel overseas, I also think this will bounce back but perhaps not as quickly.
Obviously there are still quarantine requirements here and in many countries abroad, and so that will persuade many not to travel as a result. Moreover, there is likely to be ongoing fear amongst the elderly and otherwise infirm that, despite being vaccinated, they don’t want to expose themselves to undue risk by travelling to countries will less vaccinated populations.
In addition, the government may not even allow travel to less vaccinated countries until their vaccination rates approach ours, which will be another hindrance on a quick return to international travel
So I think foreign travel may take a little longer than domestic travel to get back to where it was before the pandemic.
Ultimately though Australians have always been keen to travel the world in search of adventure. Our place at the bottom of the world many hours flying time from even our nearest neighbours means heading overseas has always been somewhat of a rite of passage for young Australians too. I think they will be in the vanguard of the return of international travel.
Ultimately, though, as the vaccines continue to roll out here and across the world, the coronavirus will end up being treated just like any other infectious disease.
Once we get to that point, the travel industry should have put the pandemic firmly in the past.