TAA National Chairman Martin Ferguson
TAA National Chairman Martin Ferguson

Tourism Accommodation Australia National Chairman, Martin Ferguson, has labelled the looming impact on tourism from bushfires and the impending Coronavirus outbreak as “unchartered waters” and “a huge global health emergency”.

Speaking at the 2020 TAA NSW Chairman’s Drinks gathering in Sydney, Ferguson praised the resilience of the industry at-large but acknowledged the full impact was yet to be realised, with the prospect of hotel closures and job cuts a very real possibility.

“The catastrophe that confronts us at the moment is beyond what we would have ever thought we would have to contend with,” Ferguson told guests.

“In today’s globalised and interconnected economy, incidents across borders and beyond our shores have an impact on our tourism and hospitality industry that is more immediate than ever before.”

Coronavirus was hitting inbound arrivals hard but the full impact was yet to be measured.

Ferguson praised the collective efforts of state and federal tourism ministers, along with organisations such as Tourism Australia, saying the nation needed open borders but that the right decisions were being made to protect the Australian community.

“We are a trading nation. Doesn’t matter whether we’re trading iron ore, coal, gas, education or tourism, we need open boundaries.

“[We must] concentrate on what we can influence that’s practical rather than thought bubbles that don’t produce an outcome that can assist our industry at the moment.”

Plaudits were further levelled at state tourism bodies, which were doing all they could, both individually and coupled with federal investment, to promote their destinations as being open for business and back to normal trading conditions. Ferguson urged them to be patient, stay strong and that they had the full support of national bodies such as TAA to help them ride out the storm.

“We face an uncertain road ahead, but we are a resilient industry.

“This resilience, coupled with comprehensive preparedness and targeted investment will ensure we navigate the unpredictable times ahead together,” Ferguson added.