Tourism Australia's 2021 $9 million dollar 'Epic Holidays' campaign encouraged Australians to enjoy the benefits of a domestic holiday. But the reality is most of us have had no other choice - with international borders closed as the COVID pandemic continues to affect life around the world.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data from June 2021 showed departures decreased by 94.5 per cent when compared with pre-COVID levels in June 2019.
Dr David Beirman is a senior lecturer in tourism at the University of Technology Sydney.
"Prior to 2020, most people thought, particularly in developed countries, that they had a right to travel internationally. That right disappeared after COVID in many, many countries in the world, including Australia."
ABS data from June 2021 also showed there were just 150,970 visitors to Australia a drop of 97.7 per cent from 2020. This saw revenue from the international tourism sector drop by 96.1 per cent.
Beyond leisure travel, COVID-19 restrictions also fundamentally affected the lives of migrants in Australia. Migration to Australia fell dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic but is expected to bounce back in 2022.
Travel for educational and business purposes has also dramatically changed because of COVID.
Dr Sinnerbrink says employers are wary of endorsing travel because of worries about insurance and liability.As to what the long-term effects of the pandemic might be on this kind of travel for study, work and conference participation?
Dr Sinnerbrink says conference travel, face-to-face meetings, long regarded as a key feature of collaborative work in all sorts of areas, are all looking more and more like a luxury.
"I mean, we can do an awful lot, remotely. And it's been quite incredible, to see how quickly people adapted. I know within the education sector, both high school teachers and university teachers had to pivot, as they say very quickly, and become used to, fully online kind of teaching and learning. But, you know, as people often point out, there's a lot that isn't quite captured in that virtual experience. There's a lot of communication that happens more readily in a face-to-face environment, there are all those little informal meetings and spaces and conversations that happen, say at a conference. People often say the most interesting and important conversations happen after the presentation, not necessarily during the presentation."
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