A veteran Queensland travel agent is warning of a looming “supply crunch” as agents struggle to meet the demand from the high number of people planning an overseas holiday.
- Main Beach Travel principal Mike Dwyer says one in three agencies have closed their doors since the COVID-19 pandemic hit
- Mr Dwyer says half of his incoming calls are from travellers who are stranded overseas
- Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills says he’s expecting a trickle and not a flood of international travellers to arrive on the Gold Coast
From 1am today, quarantine-free international travel into Queensland for fully vaccinated people resumed.
Travellers will not have to quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) result within 24 hours of entering the country.
The principal of Main Beach Travel on the Gold Coast, Mike Dwyer, said one in three travel agencies had closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
“We’re already struggling to service existing demand which is really just the tip of the iceberg.”
The industry veteran said people who wanted to travel overseas needed to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.
“About half of our incoming calls are from travellers who are stranded overseas needing help to reorganise their flights home,” Mr Dwyer said.
“I am really concerned about our industry and the lack of travel agencies and the lack of support for the industry.
“As the demand ramps up, we are going to hit a supply crunch, because there’s not enough agents to help people make their plans.”
Mr Dwyer opened his business in 2000 and said his focus is on servicing outbound travellers.
“Aussies have always been great travellers and many people have had their plans cancelled over the last two years.
“There’s lots of people with family in Europe who they haven’t seen for two years.”
The travel business owner said quarantine-free travel would now give more people the confidence to book a holiday.
“One of the biggest impediments for travelling overseas has been the fear of coming home and quarantining for two weeks,” he said.
“Removing that restriction makes it a lot better for people wanting to get overseas.
“I think people have lost faith in the consistency of the rules so there will be a lot of nervousness still.”
Mr Dwyer said COVID-related challenges meant more people were choosing to book through a travel agent rather than handle the bookings themselves.
“Every country has its own set of rules and regulations.
“On top of that, the airlines have specific requirements about being tested either 24 or 48 hours before a flight.”
When it comes to inbound travel, the chief executive of Queensland Airports, Chris Mills, said he was expecting a trickle, and not a flood, of international travellers to arrive in tourist destinations including the Gold Coast.
“What we’re expecting [is] from February onwards; we’re working with the airlines to get them back on restoring connections with countries that are in pretty good shape.”