Our tourism recovery after COVID-19 will rely on locals exploring their own backyard, according to CQUniversity tourism expert Dr Elena Konovalov.
And the researcher called on locals to start thinking of local attractions to put on a travel “bucket list”, as she shared her expertise via the new podcast CQUniversity Commentary.
As Australia's $122 billion tourism industry looks towards an easing of travel bans within Australia in the coming months, Dr Konovalov predicts a gradual approach, with people initially restricted to their own region.
“The distance we will be allowed to travel will likely be quite limited, so when the first people do start to travel, it will all be localised,” she explained.
“For tourism businesses, that means looking at people who live in the area as their priority potential customers.”
Dr Konovalov said that while mass gatherings such as music festivals or big tour groups would likely still be off limits, she said tourism operators stood to benefit from a nation of people determined to recover from “cabin-fever” caused by a few months of lockdown.
“After being in a kind of isolation for so long, I am sure so many people will be very keen to tick off those bucket list things that they’ve always wanted to do in their area,” she said.
“And while we’re still locked down, it’s a great time to start researching, making a plan of what you’d like to do, and connecting with the operators on social media who can help you have those experiences once restrictions lift.”
“This is definitely an opportunity for locals to band together and support each other.”
Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid said she believed locals – and local tourism operators – would support the backyard travel bucket list concept.
“We know Bundaberg-ians are very passionate – passionate about our abundant fresh produce, world-class distillers, brewers and winemakers, our culinary masters, the Southern Great Barrier Reef, our beautiful beaches and our picturesque national parks,” she said.
“We believe the Bundaberg Region is the perfect place for a holiday and that’s just what we need people to do…holiday here!
“It’s our local community that are going to be the first ones to be exploring their own backyard and helping the tourism and hospitality industry to bounce back strong from this crisis.
“It’s the passion from the community exploring their own backyard and sharing with friends and family that will be the driving force for the Bundaberg Region's tourism recovery.
Katherine said she agreed with Dr Konovalov’s view that tourism operators should keep online communication going during COVID-19 restrictions.
“Bundaberg Tourism and many local tour operators such as Lady Musgrave Experience are producing fresh, inspiring content on social media every day,” Katherine said.
“Locals sharing these across their own social media with friends and family will help to showcase the region and the bucket list experiences that can be had right here.”
As an extra tool, Bundaberg Tourism has put together a simple marketing guide to help business owners keep engaging with customers, recommending to stay positive and inspire audiences.
“Every little bit will help,” Katherine said.
CQUniversity Commentary was launched in April and in its first season experts focus on issues around the COVID-19 crisis, and how it impacts all aspects of our communities and lives.
To tune in, visit cquniversitycommentary.podbean.com or search “CQUniversity Commentary” wherever you listen to podcasts.