Australia border reopening: More retail reaction

By Luke Barras-hill |

Brisbane Airport Corporation says the announcement offers ‘much-needed certainty to airports, airlines, tourism operators and everyone involved in the international visitation industry’.

Reaction from the retail sector continues to pour in after Australia announced it would reopen its international borders to foreign travellers from 21 February.

Fully vaccinated visa holders will be able to travel to and from the country for the first time since March 2020 in a huge boost for the travel retail sector.

“We are very excited [that] we will soon be able to welcome back international tourists to our airport stores,” a spokesperson from Lotte Duty Free’s Brisbane Airport operation told TRBusiness.

“The teams in our stores have been waiting for two years for this time to come. What is most exciting is we will finally be able to welcome back many of our team members who have been on stand down and not working, but have remained loyal to Lotte Duty Free.

‘A WELCOME RELIEF’, SAYS ARA

“It is expected [that] the return of international tourists and business travellers will be gradual over the coming months.

“We will continue to work closely with our airport partners who have been very supportive over the last two years to ensure passengers are exposed to Lotte Duty Free through the airport’s marketing channels and through the terminal.”

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA), which represents the interests of a AUS$360 billion (US$257 billion)  retail industry that employ 1.3 million Australians said the announcement was ‘a welcome relief’ for those business particularly reliant on international tourism, including travel retailers and tourism operators.

In a statement shared with TRBusiness, ARA CEO Paul Zahra said: “This has been a long time coming, after more than 700 days cut off from the rest of the world. It’s critical to business confidence that we remain consistent in our plans to reopen and stay open.

“While this is a positive step in our Covid recovery, it will take years for international travel patterns to return to anywhere near pre-pandemic levels. It means a slow and staggered recovery rather than an immediate snap back to the way things were in 2019.

“Tourism is a key driver of economic growth with international visitors spending around $45 billion in 2018-19, before the pandemic hit.”

Source: LinkedIn/Gold Coast Airport.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA ‘ROADBLOCK’

Despite the country opening up to many travellers after some of the toughest border restrictions were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, strict measures remain in place for Western Australia (including interstate travel).

Zahra continued: “It’s important that the states and territories are aligned in their approach to managing overseas arrivals. We’re going to repel tourists if they have to go into quarantine for several days.

“Western Australia remains a roadblock to our global positioning with its border remaining closed. We call on the WA state government to set a date for the reopening, so the country is united in its approach to living with Covid.”

Several airports including Melbourne and Brisbane reacted to the news on Monday, with Gold Coast Airport – operated by Queensland Airports Limited – also sharing the following on LinkedIn the following day:

“We welcomed the federal government’s announcement that Australia’s borders will reopen to all fully vaccinated travellers from 21 February. This clears any barriers for fully vaccinated international visitors looking to holiday here.

“It all starts next week, when Scoot restarts Gold Coast to Singapore flights (under the existing Safe Travel Zone arrangement) and is closely followed by Air New Zealand recommencing services to Auckland on 2 March.

“Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said that while it would take some time for international travel to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels, the milestone was significant for the tourism industry and small businesses on the Gold Coast and in northern New South Wales.”

Sydney Airport issued a brief response via social media at the time the news emerged but is yet to reply to TRBusiness’ request for further comment.

The Lotte Brisbane spokesperson added: “Our stores have been well maintained and are ready to excite the travelling passenger with new installations, brand launches and offers to bring back the joy of duty free shopping.

“We are now all feeling very relieved that the worst is behind us and we can build for a much brighter future.”

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