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Warning to tourism operators - cheap deals won't guarantee recovery


Tourism businesses across Queensland are being urged to hold their line and avoid offering major discounts to capitalise on a tourism influx, with 58 per cent of Australians ready to travel once borders open.

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In a glimmer of good news for businesses but which is likely to disappoint would-be tourists looking for hot deals, new research suggests maintaining top-level pricing is vital for the recovery of the tourism industry.

The University of Queensland-led research shows cut-price packages were more likely to hurt rather than help tourism operators.

UQ Business School Associate Professor and tourism expert Judith Mair said the temptation to drop prices to help get through the pandemic devalued Queensland’s tourism offering.

“Not discounting is consistent across various post-disaster scenarios, such as after bushfires and after floods to help tourism businesses cope and get back on their feet,” Mair said.

“You don’t want to devalue the appearance of your property by cutting your price, but obviously you want to attract people. Even if it’s a free bottle of wine with dinner or a special offer that makes you look good do that, but don’t create an impression of your business as being cheap.

“If you want to drop your price to get people in the door, you’ll get the people, but they’ll never come back when you raise your price back up.”

The warning, aimed at the Gold Coast tourism industry that has been decimated by the restrictions and lockdowns, comes ahead of a Queensland pandemic recovery forum at the Gold Coast later this week.

Mair said research to be released in the next few months showed tourism was set to bounce back as soon as border restrictions were relaxed.

One survey found 58 per cent of Australians were keen to travel domestically as soon as they could, or felt it was acceptable to do so.

Half of them were set to travel as soon as governments lifted domestic travel restrictions, while a third said they preferred to wait 12 months to see if it was safe.

Coastal destinations were the most popular with 50 per cent, compared to only 17 per cent who said they wanted to visit cities.

Of those planning to travel, 46 per cent have already been spending searching for information to plan their trip. This includes accommodation options, and destination related information such as attractions and local restaurants and cafes, the researchers said.

“As soon as we are able to, people will be travelling as much as before and possibly more,” Mair said.

“If you asked people two or three years ago, they would never have imagined a scenario where they weren’t allowed to travel. So, having it taken away from you in some ways just gives people that desire to get back and do more of it.

“All the research suggests that the long-term travel and tourism will bounce back. I think tourism will come back with a vengeance.”

She said while it was difficult, Queensland’s key tourism hotspots needed to play a waiting game.

“This level of crisis always gives people the opportunity to look at innovation and to look at what they could be doing better, but at the same time the Gold Coast has such established brand recognition for what they do and what they have done so well in the past, I don’t think you would want to leave that behind,” she said.

“There’s always space for some kind of innovation and the next market segment, but I think there’ll always be a space for a traditional beach holiday.”


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