Spotlight on the UK – Edition 3
20 October 2021
As news of Australia’s re-opening plans are gaining momentum, what has been the response in the United Kingdom market?
In the UK, Australian current affairs are regularly reported in the media. With so many Australian expats living here, the recent news that New South Wales is lifting arrival caps and scrapping quarantine for returning Australians and their immediate families was met with a buzz of excitement. Naturally, there is pent up demand for families to reconnect after such a long period apart, as evidenced by the subsequent surge of bookings. The good news is that our key partners have proved they are capable of mobilising when an opportunity arises. This was shown when both Canada and the USA recently announced they were opening to fully vaccinated travellers from the UK. Within hours of each announcement, the trade had launched tactical campaigns to capture the demand. We look forward to working with our distribution partners to do the same for Australia when leisure travel begins.
Can you share insights into your plans to support recovery from the UK market?
We have prepared detailed plans to activate quickly as soon as the time is right. Our immediate focus will be to collaborate with our key distribution partners on capturing demand, so they can quickly convert leads into sales. Our plans are flexible to allow us to leverage the immediate opportunities as they arise. This may mean targeting a specific market segment, like Working Holiday Makers, or targeting a specific region of Australia, as some states look likely to open internationally before others. When appropriate we will work closely with all our State and Territory Tourism Organisation partners to ensure we have a whole of Australia approach to recovery. It will be a very competitive international travel market as other destinations are also opening, and therefore more important than ever to leverage our collective voice.
How is the UK travel trade faring?
The UK Government recently replaced their ‘traffic light system’ for international travel with a simplified process of ‘red list’ countries and ‘rest of world’ with Australia currently listed on the ‘rest of the world’ list. At the same time, they removed the requirement for expensive PCR tests on arrival from countries not on the red list. These changes have boosted consumer confidence in travel. Several of our distribution partners are now rebuilding their workforce to ensure they can capture the growing demand, especially for long haul travel.
Last week in London, we hosted a tourism roundtable meeting with the Hon Dan Tehan, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. It was a great opportunity for Australia’s key distribution partners to share insights directly with the Minister on the strong UK market potential for supporting Australia’s tourism recovery.
Are you seeing evidence of any emerging consumer travel trends that are relevant for travel to Australia?
The UK market has a history of being very resilient, often bouncing back from crises faster than other regions. Our research suggests that booking and travel intent is once again on the rise. Flight searches increased by 18 per cent in September compared to the previous month, and bookings were up 40 per cent showing confidence in the revised government travel system.
Throughout the pandemic, we have maintained consistent marketing activity to keep the UK audience primed for their next trip to Australia. Currently Australia is ranked second against our competitors for consideration and intention to travel. We know that Australia's natural attributes will remain popular with UK travellers - our unique wildlife, natural landscapes, beaches, food and wine, and Indigenous culture. Added to these attributes, the strong personal connections between Brits and Australians will continue to be a motivator for booking the next trip. After 18-months of social restrictions, people want to get out and about in nature, enjoy wide-open spaces, reconnect with themselves, and share experiences with loved ones they have missed.
I feel it myself. The pandemic lockdown experience has made us all appreciate the value of travel more than ever. Australia is so well positioned to fulfil travellers’ expectations.
And personally, what is on your wish list of experiences when you finally get the chance to return to Australia?
One of my life mantras is that “you never regret a dip in the ocean”. The first thing I will do when I arrive back in Australia is head straight to the beach. If my first stop is Sydney, then a road trip down the NSW South Coast will be a great place to start. I can’t wait!