Australia’s travel retail sector has reacted enthusiastically to the prospect of eased international border restrictions as work to scale-up technology-based merchandising solutions continues in line with the recovery.
It emerged last week that the country is to relax restraints on foreign travel from November, handing freedoms to fully vaccinated Australian permanent residents and citizens.
This follows 18 months of strict rules on travel into and out of the country after Prime Minister Scott Morrison closed the border at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
“Reopening before the end of the year will allow us to get started on some of our plans for the year ahead,” Przemek Lesniak, CEO of Lagardère Travel Retail Pacific, told TRBusiness.
“Twenty-twenty and 2021 have been the most challenging years in history for the travel retail industry, so by opening before Christmas and the summer break, it will allow us to get off to a flying start in 2022 which we trust will be the first year of many years of consistent and stable growth.”
CONVENIENCE AND SAFETY
Perth Airport, which continues to work closely with federal and state governments to keep passengers and workers safe, has also welcomed the development.
“It’s been a tough year for aviation and not just for airports and airlines but also for our retail partners,” said Perth Airport Chief Commercial Officer Kate Holsgrove. “Now with vaccination rates rising across Australia we can start looking forward to the re-opening of Western Australia’s interstate and international borders when it is safe to do so.”
Lagardère Travel Retail Pacific says it it ready to respond to the challenges of re-opening its international shops in line with the recovery roadmap in a similar manner to its response to the changing border situation between Australia and New Zealand.
The Trans-Tasman travel bubble re-opening was paused in September in view of an upward trend in Australia’s Covid-19 cases [though as mentioned, these appear to be easing, including in New South Wales and Victoria – Ed].
“Being a predominantly impulse-led travel retailer, we have managed to adapt our techniques by strengthening our online presence,” said Lesniak. “Recent launches of our new Southern Providore concept allowed us to bring an omni-channel approach, starting with click-and-collect and now a full click-and-deliver option.
“This was already in place with our Aelia Duty Free stores and was a natural next step for our domestic stores. We have also implemented self-scan registers and contactless payment options in store to give customers choice and confidence in their safety when shopping with us.
“We will certainly implement new technology into our stores, especially in the digital space to improve customers experience and perception of safety.”
Perth Airport says it is preparing for the return of international travel by launching a new online shopping platform offering products and services such as duty free goods.
“The new platform shop.perthairport.com.au creates a seamless and safer shopping experience for customers wanting to peruse the duty-free offering at Dufry stores located at Perth Airport,” continued Holsgrove.
“This expanded use of technology allows us to sell any product or service available at Perth Airport online. We will be working with our retail partners to expand the products and services available on the platform in the coming months, making it easier for passengers to shop in the most convenient way for them. This includes the introduction of value bundle offers from retailers across all of our terminals.
“We’ve also recently partnered with Mr Yum who operates a world-class food & beverage QR code ordering system which allows passengers to pre-order and pay for items on their device and then pick up at the terminal.”
In announcing on 1 October the plan to re-open Australia’s international borders in November, Australia’s PM Scott Morrison made clear that quarantine measures would still apply.
Double-jabbed Australian citizens and permanent residents will be subject to a seven-day home quarantine, while anyone non-vaccinated or those that have received a vaccine that has not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Australian travellers heading overseas will gain access to an internationally recognised proof of vaccination document to prove their vaccination status abroad.
The proof of vaccination will feature a QR code, readable globally, and comply with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Testing as a requirement for international travel is expected to continue but rapid antigen tests ‘may be used’ subject to further medical advice, added the government.
There are plans to work towards quarantine-free travel for certain countries such as New Zealand as the health situation permits.
“Australia is ready to take its next steps to safely reopen to the world, with changes coming to the international border,” said Morrison. “It’s time to give Australians their lives back.”
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