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Backyard travel “bucket lists” key to Australian tourism recovery, says CQUni expert

May 7, 2020 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Australia’s tourism recovery after COVID-19 will rely on locals exploring their own backyard, according to CQUniversity tourism expert Dr Elena Konovalov.

And the Townsville-based researcher called on Aussies to start thinking of local attractions to put on a travel “bucket list”, as she shared her expertise via new podcast CQUniversity Commentary.

As Australia’s $122 billion tourism industry looks towards an easing of travel bans within in the coming months, Dr Konovalov predicts a gradual approach, with people initially restricted to their own region.

“The distance we will be allowed to travel will likely be quite limited, so when the first people do start to travel, it will all be localised,” she explained.

“For tourism businesses, that means looking at people who live in the area as their priority potential customers.”

“If an operator had been mostly oriented to attracting international visitors, they will have to look at changing that, and providing something new and interesting to locals.”

Dr Konovalov said that while mass gatherings such as music festivals or big tour groups would likely still be off limits, she said tourism operators stood to benefit from a nation of people determined to recover from “cabin-fever” of a few months of lockdown.

“After being in a kind of isolation for so long, I am sure so many people will be very keen to tick off those bucket list things that they’ve always wanted to do in their area,” she said.

“And while we’re still locked down, it’s a great time to start researching, making a plan of what you’d like to do, and connecting with the operators on social media who can help you have those experiences once restrictions lift.”

“This is definitely an opportunity for locals to band together and support each other.”

Dr Konovalov said tourism operators should also be proactive about developing their business now, while lockdowns forced them to stay closed.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Dr Konovalov and CQUniversity’s Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities had just completed research with North Queensland tourism operators, revealing the majority struggled to prioritise digital marketing.

“Operators should keep online communication going out to customers and communities now, sharing content from past trips, and keeping those travel dreams alive,” Dr Konovalov said.

“If you’ve got online listings, a great time to update those, so when people search they find up-to-date information.”

Dr Konovalov said she was already seeing plenty of innovation from the tourism industry, as operators shared their trips on digital platforms.

“You can experience online dives, online educational tours, online ziplines through the jungle, even online wine tastings!” she said.

“Tourism operators have not been taking this laying down, they’ve been honest and transparent about what’s happening – the next few months as tourism reopens will be very exciting.”

In its first season, launched on Wednesday 22 April 2020, CQUniversity Commentary experts will focus on issues around the COVID-19 crisis, and how it impacts all aspects of our communities and lives.
To tune in, visit cquniversitycommentary.podbean.com or search “CQUniversity Commentary” wherever you listen to podcasts.

Dr Elena Konovalov is based in Townsville and available for interview via phone or Zoom.

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