Tourism and hospitality Associations and leading hotel industry executives have welcomed details from the NSW Government on how the state will emerge from lockdown and movement restrictions once a 70% double-dose vaccination rate is reached.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said restrictions currently in place will begin to ease gradually, with bigger steps out of lockdown coming once the magic 70% threshold is reached, expected roughly by the middle of October.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to get vaccinated – if you have not had both doses of the vaccine by the time we hit the 70 per cent milestone, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms,” Premier Berejiklian said.
While subject to further tuning and response to further outbreaks if they occur, the ‘Roadmap to Freedom’ will apply only to fully vaccinated people and will allow, at a minimum, intrastate travel within NSW while other states advise on the status of their own borders. Residents of NSW will be able to move about the state, with holidays permitted in hotels, caravan parks and campgrounds, while carpooling will also return.
In response to the announcement, Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson urged all remaining residents of NSW to ensure they receive their vaccinations so they can emerge from lockdown and resume their lives including travel freedoms.
“This is good news for our industry overall, including accommodation operators, staff, and the wider community,” Johnson said.
“Having time to prepare is also important as we expect an influx of regional travel once the 70% benchmark is reached, given people have been cooped up for such a long time.
“Overall, the message is simple. Get vaccinated,” Johnson added.
“You’ll need two shots to enjoy the freedoms ahead and we look forward to inviting you back into our accommodation venues.”
Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said the planned roadmap was exactly what it had been asking for, especially with the notice period given to allow hotels to engage staff once again.
“Hotels and motels can’t just throw open their doors and open their rooms on the day restrictions lift. They need time to prepare, to bring back the team, to provision up and to put all the necessary systems in place to deliver the best and safest experience for guests and for staff.”
Sentiments from leading hotel executives were universally positive and united in encouraging everybody eligible to get vaccinated, with Accor Pacific CEO Simon McGrath saying the news that NSW is edging towards freedom was most welcome.
“Australia’s economy must get moving again and we need learn to live with COVID,” McGrath said.
“Now all states must accelerate their vaccination efforts, it is in the best interests of our country to be whole again and connected with the rest of the world.”
Hilton Vice President Australasia, Heidi Kunkel, said the desire to travel and connect with others is “core to the human experience”.
“I am optimistic that strong pent-up travel demand will provide a desperately-needed boost to our hotels – and to tourism and hospitality businesses across the state,” Kunkel said.
“As NSW opens up, the safety and wellbeing of our guests and team members will continue to be of paramount importance, and Hilton is committed to safely facilitating travel. We continue to encourage our team members to get the vaccine as it becomes available to them and have provided them with relevant resources and information regarding vaccine availability.”
IHG Hotels and Resorts Senior Vice President and Managing Director Australasia, Japan and Pacific, Leanne Harwood, said the people of NSW were now breathing a sigh of relief.
“We know that people will be aching to break free across the state – whether it’s a city staycation, a country escape or a beach holiday – and the great news is that our industry is eagerly ready and waiting in the starting blocks to welcome everyone as they do,” Harwood said.
“We just need our community to continue the great momentum and hit that magic number of 70% by mid-October or sooner. Come on NSW, we can do it!”
Marriott International Area Vice President Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Sean Hunt, said vaccinations were undoubtedly the pathway to opening up the economy and that the business community needed to incentivise Australians to get the jab as soon as they can.
“At Marriott, we are confident that vaccination is a key measure to restarting travel, along with testing, mask wearing, social distancing and Marriott’s ‘Commitment to Clean’ program featuring stepped-up cleanliness protocols to minimise the spread of COVID-19,” Hunt said.
“Marriott has also undertaken a suite of measures and incentives to support our Associates across the ANZPAC region during the pandemic, including priority access to vaccinations and scheduling flexibility to allow our staff to be vaccinated along with providing financial support and vaccination funding in Fiji and Samoa, to ensure our workforce is cared for and ready to return to work.”