‘It’s not forever’: Business experts weigh in to Tourism slowdown

Published 23 March 2020
Gold Coast Australia Gold Coast, Australia

Southern Cross University experts from the School of Business and Tourism are urging those with relatively stable income to support businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Head of School Professor Robin Stonecash said businesses in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries were being hit the hardest, with others likely to follow.

However, some local businesses are coming up with ‘novel’ ways to continue reaching their customers while limiting fear and possible exposure to an increasing virus risk.

“The effect of COVID-19 on the economy is going to cause a significant drop in income for almost everyone in the tourism and hospitality industries, however it is heartening to see some businesses, such as high-end restaurants adapting their products such as using offering home delivery for the first time so consumers can continue to support the establishments they love,” Professor Stonecash said.

“At another coffee house, I saw they had set up a stall outside so customers could still come and get takeaway without having to go inside, and there are other examples of creative ways to do things.

“I know for some it will be almost impossible to adapt their offerings without the tourist numbers to support them, but any business that is able to hold onto their staff I encourage them to do so, as bosses and staff who are loyal to each other and are able to stick this out will be better off than businesses who let their best staff go and have to recruit and retain new staff at the other end.”

Professor Stonecash reminded consumers that a drop in their own expenditure always has a direct impact on someone else’s income.

“As an economist I encourage consumers to keep doing whatever they can to support artists, restaurants through takeaway and other retail establishments while keeping to social distancing measures to help them keep their staff employed and keep their patrons,” said Professor Stonecash, who is also on the board of Connecting Southern Gold Coast.

“The Gold Coast and Byron area along with the rest of the country are grappling with having to cancel or postpone events in the short to mid-term, including major events which deliver much-needed cash injections to local providers and the economy.

“The important message to get out to everyone is that this will pass and things will become closer to normal again in time to come – tourists will come back to enjoy this beautiful city and everything we have to offer.

“Our natural environment hasn’t changed, we still have the most beautiful beaches and natural attractions alongside our world class tourism and hospitality offerings – so if we can support each other through this upheaval, we’ll have the best chance of coming out on top on the other side.”

Professor Stonecash said despite the severe impact on the aviation industry, with Virgin and Qantas cutting back on all international flights and a significant proportion of domestic flights, Australians had to a lot to be thankful to their airlines for.

“This is having a significant impact, and yet the airlines are being incredibly flexible and generous offering flight rescheduling and refunds as they recognise this out of anyone’s control, and hopefully the assistance the airlines are receiving will see them through this pandemic.”

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or scumedia@scu.edu.au