Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long

The Accommodation Association has welcomed the four-stage plan put in place by Australia’s National Cabinet to guide the country out of the pandemic quagmire, highlighting the urge for all Australians to get vaccinated.

Announced late last week, the four-phase roadmap is light on timelines and specific targets but outlines a proposal to help Australia avoid future lockdowns, gain security on domestic borders and eventually move to reopening to international visitors. Progression through the phases is predominantly based on vaccination rates as a threshold of the eligible population.

Vaccine targets will determine the speed at which Australia emerges from global isolation.

At the time of writing, less than 10% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, however around one-quarter have received their first shot of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca inoculation.

Currently, ongoing international traveller bans coupled with recent and ongoing lockdowns in Greater Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth have left hotel occupancy rates languishing at a desperate 2% on average across the sector, with cancellation rates of 50% through to August. The occupancy rates do not take into account levels utilised by hotel quarantine requirements.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said he welcomed the common-sense approach to setting reopening targets and working with government at all levels to set achievable milestones to establish a more normal framework.

“Our sector more than most has been heavily hit as a result of the international travel ban and the ongoing domestic border closures and restrictions,” Long said.

Australia’s plan currently indicates only vaccinated persons (or those with medical exemptions) will be allowed to visit.

“Our people and our properties, especially those hotels and accommodation providers in Sydney and Melbourne, have been under immense pressure and today’s announcement means we can all breathe a little easier because an end is now in sight.

“We welcome the enhanced vaccination rollout, and we encourage all Australians to get vaccinated so that we can all get back to living and travelling sooner rather than later.”

Pent-up travel demand will soon shift to international holidays as the world begins to open up once again.

Potential relaxations of restrictions for fully vaccinated Australians have been outlined in the roadmap plan, with exemptions from lockdown and border restrictions among the perks being offered to those who obtain the two required jabs. Allowances of student and economic visa holders have been outlined for future phases, along with lifted restrictions on international travel and the abolition of quarantine requirements on return.

The return of international temporary visitors and tourists to Australia comes as part of the final phase if they have been fully vaccinated. All stages will include risk mitigation and prevention measures including hygiene, tracing and testing.