Traveller Letters: Warning to Australian tourism businesses - don't gouge locals

THE COST OF GOUGING

Australia is coming to terms with the fact that we'll probably have to learn to live with COVID-19 forever. As we offer up our unspent wealth, many tourist and allied business proprietors will be gleefully anticipating getting back to business. And who can blame them? "Come see Australia", they're pleading. So we should.

But a word of warning: please do try to resist the temptation to gouge that Aussie tourist you assume is cashed-up. Many of us have long memories and it's only the airlines who have us (to some degree, and on some routes) over a barrel. Other businesses should be looking at this opportunity to last for longer than a short time. You can facilitate that by pricing things reasonably.

Fergus Moffat, West Melbourne, VIC

CLIPPED WINGS

Yes, 2020 was indeed a tough year for all tourism operators and those of us that love to travel. We could not proceed with our plans for five weeks of touring in Greece and Turkey in June and July. Also a yearly ski weekend up at Falls Creek, Victoria, with friends in late August was thwarted due to Victoria's second lockdown. Then at the last moment, a planned two week road trip to Sydney and across regional NSW over the new year period for both work and a much needed holiday had to be cancelled.

Our travel wings are clipped and our confidence in booking any type of interstate travel is severely dented. On the upside we have recently enjoyed a short break up at Lake Eildon, three and half hours or so north-west of Melbourne and have booked a  weekend away at Warrnambool, at the western end of the Great Ocean Road. In the short-term we look forward to trips to further explore our beautiful state of Victoria and support local communities.

Clare Rock, Blackburn North, VIC

GROUSE SPOUSE

My wife does all the travel research and accommodation booking for our trips both abroad and at home. With domestic travel the only option at the moment, she will only book places that have a 100 per cent refund policy, just in case borders close at the drop of a hat.

The other thing her research has found is that some places are charging a royal ransom for cleaning, sometimes more than the accommodation tariff. As suggested by the owners of the Empyre Hotel in Castlemaine, Victoria (Traveller Letters, December 12), she always contacts the accommodation directly and most of the time secures a better price as well as much better communication and service.

Peter Miniutti, Ashbury, NSW

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GROG (NOT) ON

My wife travelled to Mackay, Queensland, on a weekend recently - up on Qantas on a Friday night and back on Virgin on Monday night. You couldn't have got two more different services. Qantas offered alcohol while Virgin said due to COVID-19 they were not supplying alcohol. So is Virgin going to be a budget airline or not?

Andrew Harris, Hendra QLD

MONEY LAUNDERING

In the spirit of "Bleat this" (Traveller Letters, November 28), some years ago I put some washing into a local Langkawi, Malaysia, laundry rather than pay the usual exorbitant hotel costs. It was Thursday morning and I was told that they would close at 4 pm for the weekend.

Just before 4 pm I remembered my washing and raced to the laundromat to find the shop closed and the attendant getting onto the back of a motorbike to start her long weekend. When she saw me she got off the bike and reopened the shop and gave me my washing. I offered to pay her double the cost of the washing and, with a stern look, she asked me why? I reminded her of her earlier warning, my stupidity, her kindness and only then would she accept what she may have thought was charity.

We lucky travellers should always be mindful of those in  less fortunate circumstances who often go out of their way to provide us with great service, memories and adventures.

Robin Humphrey, Springwood, NSW

CANCEL CULTURE

We had a number of trips booked last year, both domestic and international. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 we had to cancel these trips. A couple of the international trips were quite expensive. We had a multi-trip annual travel insurance policy with Tokio Marine Nichido, through the RACV.

Our experience in dealing with the former was excellent from initial engagement, submitting the claim, communication and timely processing of the claim. They refunded us all the out of pocket costs, bar the excess, which was fine. We're really glad we were insured with them.

Alok Chakravarti, Blackburn, VIC

UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Sorry, John Ward (Traveller Letters, December 12), seven months waiting for a refund is nothing. I bought my partner a Jetstar ticket from Sydney to the Gold Coast to travel in January 2009. The flight was cancelled and she ended up buying a ticket on a Virgin Flight because she could not get another Jetstar flight in a timely manner. She was told by Jetstar that I would receive a refund within 10 days. Despite my numerous phone calls to Qantas/Jetstar I never received a refund. It will be 12 years in January 2021 and still counting. To add insult to injury I was a Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyer at the time.

Glen Braithwaite, Wetherill Park, NSW

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