No quick fix for ACT’s devastated cultural and tourism sectors, Barr warns

Ian Bushnell 19 April 2020 36
Raiders playing at Canberra Stadium

Don’t expect to cheer for the Raiders at Canberra Stadium this year. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Canberrans will not be able to come together for concerts, cultural or sporting events for the foreseeable future, while international tourism will be dead for years, Chief Minister Andrew Barr told a COVID-19 Legislative Assembly committee on Friday (17 April).

Mr Barr laid out the grim consequences for the ACT’s tourism sector of the coronavirus travel bans and social distancing measures after he had delivered his frank assessment to the Territory’s tourism industry in the morning.

The ACT has already lost major drawcards such as the National Folk Festival and Floriade to the virus, national institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia are closed, and sport, including national football competitions, is non-existent.

Even as governments dare to think that restrictions could be lifted and start to map out an exit strategy, Mr Barr said that any relaxation would not necessarily mean the cultural, sporting and tourism sectors could simply restart.

”It is very difficult to envisage a situation where any large-scale event would be possible, so even if there was a relaxation of the current very strict measures there would be no prospect of large community gatherings domestically in Australia for the foreseeable future.”


Floriade’s is one of Canberra’s big drawcards for domestic and international visitors. Photo: Jack Mohr.

Calling it the most challenging year in the history of tourism in Canberra, Mr Barr said there should be no expectations of an international sector for many years now.

“It is unlikely that any effective suppression and elimination strategy of the virus could succeed in Australia while having any form of open international border.”

He said the virus had hit three of the ACT’s biggest source countries for tourists – China, the UK and the US – so travel from those areas could not be expected to resume any time soon.

In Australia, only the ACT, NSW and Victoria had open borders and non-essential travel could be met with fines.

”We are now in an environment where any domestic travel and tourism has effectively ceased,” he said.

Mr Barr said the best hope in the medium term was for some unlocking of state borders and some resumption of domestic tourism at some point after the winter.

“The challenge now in the domestic tourism space in coming months is to look to innovate, and provide a COVID-19-safe tourism environment, which would need to be a highly managed environment with small groups of people and small numbers,” he said.

Mr Barr had asked Visit Canberra to look at options for a modest restart for the industry at the appropriate time, and what marketing and industry partnerships could support it.

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36 Responses to No quick fix for ACT’s devastated cultural and tourism sectors, Barr warns
Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 5:58 pm 20 Apr 20

I don't get it... Whilst it's very sad that people are dying all over the world... How can that effect in Canberra, for such a long time when because, of our well behaved quarantine, we, lost very minimal People and 70+ People, in the whole of Australia. Why's such a pessimistic prediction for yrs to come? What is that this government is hidden from us....Please Explain??

    Suzanne Tunks Suzanne Tunks 7:59 pm 20 Apr 20

    Frank Trapani I think because it’s not over yet and possibly much more to come. The medical experts are all expecting things to get worse and for this to be a big issue for us all for months to come at least. The ACT are doing their best to put the lives of our vulnerable people first and that’s the right thing to do. Those other things will come again but you can’t bring back a loved one who is taken too soon.

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 8:19 pm 20 Apr 20

    Suzanne Tunks, in a kind sad way, I have to agree with you 100%.

    Robert Johnson Robert Johnson 6:50 am 21 Apr 20

    It's not about the amount affected or the deaths in Australia. It's the fact that no one is allowed to leave their home, domestic tourism has ceased which is a major source of income for many regions, places of business in the sector WILL shutdown, and that international tourism won't start at all for potentially years. Even after the virus is over and done with, people will be scared to travel. Hospitality is also another industry that's going to be heavily impacted because of the above. Especially after the recent bushfires, it really is safe to say Tourism in Australia won't be the same for a long time.

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 9:24 am 21 Apr 20

    Robert Johnson . Sadly it is all true. You're right Robert, the world will not be the same again after this. I Just hope that there's no more calamities to go through after this one.. One thing is for sure, the year 2020, will be in the history books. However, I am confident that humanity will be able to overcome this and more. All the best mate.

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 9:47 am 21 Apr 20

    Robert Johnson ...After reading this, the right thing to do, is to say thanks to our Chief Minister, for not being afraid to tell, as it is. It's quite refreshing to see that political correctness has not being used.. Cheers for an honest politician 👍 ✅✅

BowditchPitch BowditchPitch 5:37 pm 20 Apr 20

Let’s hope, and assume, that Andrew Barr is wrong.

Daniel Howell Daniel Howell 4:43 pm 20 Apr 20

Doesn't sound like he knows what hes doing

Fiona Louise Matthews Fiona Louise Matthews 1:32 pm 20 Apr 20

Let’s hope they let team sports start up again as soon as possible. So many kids are missing their weekend sports and it’s a must for mental health. Surely these comps can start again soon, though Probably not carnivals etc.

Michael Blythe Michael Blythe 1:27 pm 20 Apr 20

The biggest virus is mainstream media....

John Canevski John Canevski 1:20 pm 20 Apr 20

The only virus is this government

Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 12:47 pm 20 Apr 20

Leonie Greentree. A very stark and realistic assessment of sporting events, large crowds and intl and domestic travel for the ACT and Australia.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:42 pm 20 Apr 20

    Ed N Joanne, we are adult enough to handle the truth (I thought).

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 8:48 pm 20 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza I hope so but some don't seem to like the uncomfortable truth.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:49 pm 20 Apr 20

    Or being told what to do for their own good 🤷‍♂️

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 8:51 pm 20 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza Yep that's for sure.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:52 pm 20 Apr 20

    Self-entitled Canberrans 🙄

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 8:59 pm 20 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza i think/hope the majority understand but there are those that are"special". They either dont think or care that the rest of us are doing what we have to do even though it is hard for us too.

Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 12:36 pm 20 Apr 20

It won’t be dead for years and if we eradicate the virus which we’re well on track to do apparently, why can’t we come together in crowds again. This guy always likes to paint the very worst case scenario.

    Tod Davis Tod Davis 12:39 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome almost like he is enjoying it

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 1:01 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina but will it be eradicated? If we come together in crowds and it is not eradicated(hard thing to do) then it will resurface and we will have the whole virus problem again. The world needs an effective vaccine because this virus is unlikely to just die out. Andrew Barr paints a worst case scenario (based on medical advice) so he properly prepares people also this is the message other State Premiers and Chief Ministers are giving to their residents.. If it gets better well that's great but if it doesn't people have not been misled in what is a very serious and life threatening virus situation. You may disagree with what I say but I for one would rather a Govt which deals with it properly. I don't think he is enjoying it one bit.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 1:05 pm 20 Apr 20

    Ed N Joanne Towner I respect your views. I would also rather a Govt that deals with it properly but to say that international tourism will be dead for years is a huge call. Canberra has had no new cases for six days. Other states are starting to track similar and others have declined quite drastically. So if our international borders are still shut, then yes I believe we are on track for eradication. I’ve lived in this city for as long as he’s been Chief Minister and in my view he sells a lot of negativity.

    Steve Gannis Steve Gannis 1:07 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome I agree 💯 Tina Canberra is in Avery good position to the rest of Aust!!

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 1:08 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome it said INTERNATIONAL tourism, Australia is doing well. I for one don’t want certain international travellers arriving here.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 1:09 pm 20 Apr 20

    Sher Young that’s what I said? I said ‘to say that international tourism will be dead for years is a huge call’. Did you actually read what I wrote?

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 1:14 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Whilst I am not a big fan of Barr at anytime I think he is doing his best to do the right thing by ACT residents. We were going to intl travel next year but i too can't envisage this being realistic for a few years or more. I do hope it gets to a point where we can see our friends after winter and that we can go interstate to see relatives and take a domestic holiday. Like you I have lived in this city as long as he has been C.M. in fact pre self govt in my/our case. So have my opinions on various politicians and I am not a fan of Barr so my opinions would not normally favour his actions.. I think we are going well towards being a lot safer as you say no new cases for six days. There is the problem however that the virus can linger on surfaces quite a while. There were news reports that they found Corona virus in the cabins of the Diamond Princes 14 days after the cabins were vacated. Some people( younger people often) can be asymptomatic so how long it will linger is an unknown. Glad we do live in the ACT as I do feel safer here than I would in a major city. I hope we all stay well.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 1:16 pm 20 Apr 20

    Ed N Joanne Towner I don’t doubt that he’s done a good job through both the bushfires and this. I just think he needs to sell a bit more positivity 🤷‍♀️

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 1:22 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome I hear your point of course it always help to give people hope as well as be real. Stay safe.

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 1:33 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome

    Scotty from Marketing does that. It’s not helpful

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 1:40 pm 20 Apr 20

    Stephen Page-Murray he does a far better job at selling positivity than Barr in my opinion.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 1:40 pm 20 Apr 20

    Stephen Page-Murray but yes, it’s not helpful.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 3:00 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina Newsome I'd likie more positivity too and generally I think he is very positive about Canberra and loves the city. The issue is if we err on the side of caution with restrictions, we'll be more likely to return to a somewhat normal life while we search for a vaccine. International travel will require avaccine I think. I say this as someone who loves to travel and does so once or twice a year. I was hoping for 2021, but I'm now thinking it will take as long as it takes. So 2022 could be the realistic timeframe. i'll be saving my money for one big amazing trup though.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:32 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina, I’d rather be told the truth thanks.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 8:33 pm 20 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza um okay. If you want to believe that then go right ahead. No ones stopping you.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:39 pm 20 Apr 20

    Tina, he’s just being honest about the outlook. I own and run a tourism business. We aren’t planning for the relaxing of international travel until next year at the earliest. Of course we’d love it to be earlier, but we are planning for the worst (while hoping for better than that).

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 8:59 pm 20 Apr 20

    Shane Jasprizza fair enough but he said years which I personally don’t believe.

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