Traveller Letters: Are Australia's tourism operators really struggling?

LETTER OF THE WEEK

BAD TIMES, GOOD TIMES

As an ex-resident of Cairns, Queensland, and having travelled there often over the last 15 years, I remember being concerned at the reporting earlier this year about the end of JobKeeper and impact to the tourism industry. But, current and recent lockdowns notwithstanding, over the last month, in trying to book a getaway up there with my pregnant wife, I have had to wonder if the impact of international travel shutdowns has actually resulted in a massive uplift in tourism up that way. I know it's obvious more people have been travelling inside Australia more right now, but places like Port Douglas, which have been showing 95 per cent occupancy at some sites, are experiencing heavier bookings than any time in the past 10 years. What's more, prices on available accommodation are two to four times higher and car rental costs are out of control. That's great news for the travel providers but makes it hard for anyone not cashed up to travel.

Paul Italiano, Melbourne, VIC

TAXIING TIMES

Remember when Uber first arrived? Each car was spotlessly clean and patrons were offered bottles of water and mints. Standards may have dropped but I'm pleased to report that is what Uber trips are still like in Darwin. In direct contrast to taxis, which are run down and when we were recently there, unreliable. We nearly missed a plane waiting on a taxi that had been called by our hotel but didn't arrive. Luckily two Uber cars arrived in only five minutes and got us to the airport in time.

Mary McElhone, Randwick, NSW

LONELIEST NUMBER

I wholeheartedly agree with your correspondent, Lance Stirling (Traveller Letters, July 10), regarding the cost of travelling in Australia. It is even worse for a solo traveller like myself who has to pay the huge single supplements. I, too, have travelled extensively and found travelling overseas far cheaper than travelling here. That is the reason so many Australians choose to travel overseas. When I lived overseas local citizens were given incentives to travel within their own country.

Barbara Cohen, Brighton East, VIC

HOLDING PATTERNS

I am in total agreement with Mary Grant (Traveller Letters, July 10) regarding Qantas phone wait times. Sadly, it's been a problem for years. It is more than timely that Qantas customer service practices be investigated. In August 2019 I waited in my hotel room in Darwin for a Qantas call back, with wait times advised as approximately two hours. It was four and a half hours. In Spain in February last year, I tried to call Qantas in Australia needing to change a flight. The message said wait times of approximately two hours. I gave up. In the past two weeks I have spent more than 15 hours trying to sort out flight changes made by Qantas. The overseas call centre operators could not answer my questions and put me on hold with no option to select a call back. Two written complaints resulted in the response to ring the number again, and the second one was just ignored.

Kate Rabbitt, Newcastle NSW

MANAGEMENT PLAN

My wife and I had a booking with Qantas to fly to Brisbane last week to see our family but COVID-19 got in the way. To reschedule flights I simply went to Qantas online, found my flight using my booking reference, clicked on "manage your booking" and selected new dates. Bingo it was done. No waiting, no extra costs, just good efficient service. Brilliant.

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Graham Medhurst, Gordon, NSW

PUTTING THE 'STAR' IN JETSTAR

I had a very easy experience cancelling my Jetstar flights to Cairns. It took just three clicks and a few days later a credit voucher in my inbox. No stress at all.

Bettina Harris, Hornsby Heights, NSW

HIGH ANXIETY

I am very curious as to how many of your readers are planning and/or hoping to travel overseas in 2022? Of course, we will all be vaccinated, and one would hope that we are nearing or in stage three of the prime minister's COVID-19 road map, allowing us to travel abroad. However, as we are still not getting any articles on overseas travel in Traveller, apart from NZ, am I to assume that our travel editors and writers, too, are less than optimistic about travelling afar in 2022? Perhaps you could run a survey or poll and ask the question of your readers? I am sure there will be more travellers than me who are starting to feel quite anxious about whether or not we'll be allowed to travel.

Ruth Green, Beechworth, VIC

Editor's note: While the majority of our coverage is still focused on travel within Australia and New Zealand, we have been publishing some articles recently on other destinations, including the US, Canada, the UK, Japan and South Korea, as well as round-ups such as this piece previewing some of the major events happening around the world in 2022.

EPIC FAIL

The popular NSW ski resort of Perisher appears to be backflipping on its Epic pass refunds policy. After promoting Epic passes (the season-long pass to use its lifts) on its website with lines like "plan your season with confidence" and "refunds in the event of stay-at-home orders." Perisher updated its website in late June (just as the Sydney lockdown started) to say that any stay-at-home orders must extend for at least 30 consecutive days. I am sure Sydney-based Epic pass season holders would be concerned about this and would get a surprise when they apply for a refund. We should expect more of Perisher.

Amelia Giugni, Croydon, NSW

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