James Dixon James Dixon

QLD tour operator: Time to look at way distribution works

The Covid crisis and lessons learned from it open up new opportunities to look at the way the trade and distribution channel works for ground operators, says James Dixon, Cairns based managing director of Down Under Tours.

‘Credit is something we are struggling with – to get payment from creditors,’ Dixon said in a video presentation from Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ), of which he is a board member. ‘You can’t get on an aircraft without pre-paying for that seat, so why should our industry be any different? Why as operators do we have to wait 45, sometimes 60 (days) to get our payment? ‘These are questions to ask and good conversations to have with our distribution partners,’ he adds. Dixon, who is also general manager day tours and short breaks with AAT Kings, says tour operators need to have a hard look at how they will be profitable working in post pandemic conditions.

‘Social distancing and tourism don't really go hand. What are the expectations of us as operators and also of the consumer? As a coach operator, does a 53 seater become a 25 seater? Does 28 become 14? If you are a smaller operator only carrying 12, does that mean six? ‘All of this will have an impact on our business. We all have to break even and if we are going to halve the number of passengers we carry, our yield is going to be lost.’ Dixon says the challenge of being in hibernation is a challenge in itself. ‘Getting through the six months and the deferral of loans means the (obligations) are still going to be there. So yield is something we operators have to address.

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