Letters: Domestic tourist sweeteners

The article about problems in the Australian tourism industry (Traveller, September 17) highlights the increasing imbalance between local tourists and those travelling overseas.

But it does not address the stumbling blocks in making Australia more competitive in the world tourist market, which is to increase the quality and accessibility of tourist services.

Having toured extensively in Europe during the past decade and recently in the US, services for middle-income earners and retirees of modest means in Australia compare poorly with those abroad.

There is a dearth of moderately priced accommodation, public transport to places of interest and information for those with a keen interest in history, culture and the sciences.

Many people want to go and learn, not eat and laze at luxury resorts or take a fixed-itinerary tour. For example, in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, one can buy a hop-on-off $33 bus pass for three days but not a point-to-point fare between stops except on the infrequent public bus.

Travellers will keep taking better offerings elsewhere unless there is a rethink from the top down to encourage rejigging of tourist facilities across all industries and agencies in Australia. All it needs is good government leadership.

- Jeff Kirby

Screen overload

On two Virgin Australia flights recently between Sydney and Melbourne, I was subjected to an hour of Foxtel ads and infotainment. The screens and the distracting, intrusive television could not be turned off and on both flights none of the screen dimmers on board worked.

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After we landed at 6.11pm on September 12, the screens showed the smoking wreckage of the hijacked United Airlines plane in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Paying customers deserve choice.

- Brian Brennan

Insurance ease

For 13 years my husband and I have been clients of Flight Centre (which owns Escape Travel). In each case we have taken out the insurance it recommended, Cover-More. Two years ago, we cancelled an entire package trip to Europe, just days before we were due to depart, because my husband needed surgery unexpectedly. Once all relevant documentation had been compiled, Cover-More accepted our claim and paid us promptly.

That trip was rescheduled and enjoyed a year later. Volcanic dust disrupted the start of the holiday but Cover-More was reasonable in handling our claim for associated costs.

I retired this year and we travelled again to Europe. We had food poisoning in Portugal and were forced to leave our tour group for several days. We incurred significant costs for treatment abroad and for alternative transport and accommodation. Once again, Cover-More honoured our claim without fuss or argument and in a timely way.

- Joan Wilkinson

Back to better backs

My wife and I, both Qantas Club members, are entitled to travel with 32 kilograms of luggage each. Under the old system, two bags could be used to make up the total weight. Under the new system, only one bag a passenger is permitted.

On a recent flight from Perth to Sydney, my bag weighed 26 kilograms and, as I'm 71, I couldn't lift it. I had to ask a more robust passenger to lift it for me. Pity the poor baggage handlers, especially if they are expected to lift a 32-kilogram bag.

The Qantas staff member who advised us how to operate the new automated check-in system agreed that it left a lot to be desired. The old system was fairer and easier on the back.

- Phillip Boorman

Left without a crutch

As someone with a permanent disability, the treatment I received from Qantas security officers at Brisbane Airport recently was shocking. After passing though security, my crutch was taken from me and no other aid was made available. I was told to lean against a post because security needed to screen the crutch again. I had to stand unaided for a screening of my body, despite the fact I had told two of the officers I had a broken femur and a hip replacement.

- Rosemary Ross

We welcome your travel-related opinions, experiences and letters. Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Email us at travellerletters@fairfax.com.au including your name, address and phone number.

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