COVID-19 vaccines: Tourism Australia to launch pro-vaccination campaign

After decades encouraging long-haul travel to the so-called Land Down Under, Tourism Australia has turned to home for its shortest, and perhaps most important, journey entreaty of all: the trip by Australians to their nearest COVID-19 vaccination centre.

The Federal Government's tourism marketing body is launching a pro-vaccination campaign this weekend in major metropolitan newspapers and on social media, with the slogan "It's our best shot for travel: get vaccinated and get ready to go."

Phillipa Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia, said it is now "clearer than ever before" that vaccination is the only pathway towards a "COVID normal" community.

Vaccination is not only critical to the prosperity of the tourism industry but also for the nation as a whole, with one in 13 Australians employed by the sectors, Ms Harrison said during a Tourism Australia online industry webinar on Friday.

"We need to claim back our way of life, so that we can visit friends and relatives, get back into the workplace, get our kids back to school, travel domestically and internationally again, and welcome the world back to enjoy all that Australia has to offer."

The federal government's pathway plan for reopening international borders stipulates that non-vaccinated travellers will be subject to pre-flight and arrival COVID-19 testing while those fully inoculated will be granted greater freedoms.

Dan Tehan, the federal minister for trade, tourism and investment, said during the webinar that travel industry figures have told him the current COVID-19 crisis confronting operators nationally is "as tough as it's ever been" since the start of the pandemic early last year.

With so many key Australian eastern seaboard domestic markets under lockdown, Mr Tehan says that "not a single plane is flying into Uluru", one of the nation's most popular tourism destinations, at the moment.

He conceded that parts of the struggling tourism industry have experienced difficulties accessing special federal government support loans.

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Tourism Australia's bid to encourage Australians to get vaccinated joins other pro-vaccinations campaigns by organisations such as Qantas, which has already foreshadowed "health passports" as proof of vaccination for passengers when overseas travel resumes.

Qantas has also flagged a scheme to reward customers who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine with incentives like frequent flyer points or flight vouchers to help boost national vaccination rates.

A hospitality industry-based print, digital and TV campaign with the entreaty to "put a jab on the menu" is due to commence this month and will be supported by major media organisations including Nine Entertainment, owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

The campaign is set to feature leading Australian chefs such as Matt Moran, Guillaume Brahimi, Neil Perry, Danielle Alvarez, Maurice Terzini and Jacqui Challinor with international and domestic tourism a major revenue source for the hospitality industry.

Additionally, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is calling on its members to tell clients "we're vax ready, and we are here to get you travel ready" while the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), representing the once lucrative convention and exhibition industry, is also urging people to #GiveBEaShot.

Ms Harrison said the sooner vaccination numbers can be accelerated, the sooner Australians will see restrictions ease, giving Australians greater confidence to travel and take a holiday in their own country.

"While the health situation needs to be our priority as we navigate our way through and out of the pandemic, we also need to consider what we can do to claim our way of life back, and in doing so support the recovery of tourism," she said.

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