As uncertainty continues for the travel and tourism industry as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, The Travel Corporation (TTC) has put a pause on Australian group touring departures until December 1.
Announced by David Hosking, CEO of TTC Australia, the pause will affect trips hosted by a number of popular tourism providers, including AAT Kings Guided Holidays, Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Inspiring Journeys. Meanwhile, AAT Kings Day Tours and Short Breaks programs will continue to operate in the Northern Territory.
The decision comes as several Australian states navigate outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant, with lockdowns and border closures in place to limit interstate travel.
“The health and safety of our staff, clients and suppliers is our priority,” said TTC. The organisation is working closely with travel agency partners and guests to secure travel bookings in 2022 and beyond, after the travel pause.
Further, TTC has announced that from December 1, when it is hoped that tours will be able to resume, all eligible travellers and customer-facing staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with this mandate affecting both Australian and New Zealand branches.
“We have sought and will continue to take advice,” said TTC. “However, put simply, it is the right things to do. Following what TTC has already implemented in the US and Europe, we are proud to be taking a positive stance on vaccination requirements for our guests and customer-facing team members in Australia and New Zealand. Our aim is to help our guests, agency partners and team transition to what is inevitably going to be the ‘new normal; in safe travel and help the industry rebound in a sustained way.”
TTC said that its tours would, pending new developments, return from December 1, 2021, with this date based on government plans in Australia and New Zealand, as well as projected vaccination rates. The group hoped for a collective approach among states for managing border closures and future lockdowns.
“The current operating environment has meant that most of our tours have been impacted by cancellations due to lockdowns and restrictions, and we cannot deliver our usual high standard of guest experience,” said TTC. “The Travel Corporation reservations and sales teams will be in direct communication with affected guests and agency partners regarding the changes. For those that cannot commit to being fully vaccinated prior to travel, a refund will be issued.”
When vaccination rates in Australia and New Zealand reach 70 to 80 percent, TTC hopes to lift the travel pause and bring a boom back to the tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.